Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

The truth, pure and simple, is that it is one of the greatest abuses of power known in the history of mankind. Spying is either evil or a method enthroned since time immemorial to detect what the “enemy” may be doing. But to subject everyone, EVERYONE, to ongoing monitoring, building a society manipulated or controlled to the highest degree, was something that was made up — divined — only in the demonic imagination expressed in the novels of Ray Bradbury and George Orwell.

Surveillance is also evidence of the fear, mistrust, prejudice and cowardice of the empire, hidden under its cloak of arrogance, of its dominion and strength. It argues that it is protecting its citizens from the dangers of terrorism, when actually it is subjecting them to total scrutiny, from earth to the heavens, by an absolute control of espionage.

Earthlings, as in the story “The Pedestrian” and Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451,” are destined to remain stuck at home, watching TV, distracted with their messages, “talking” with their next-door neighbor by email or phone and transferring digitized information that supposedly is more private than direct contact, but leaving them open to exposure of their customs, thoughts and even more intimate activities.

The United States and its allies, in the quest for a perfectly controlled planet, are going by what O’Brien tells Winston Smith, the central character of Orwell’s novel “1984”: “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping forever on a human face.”

But that Orwellian world that seems to be becoming fateful reality is rejected by those who have the ability to think, feel and live in search of a better one.

I’d say that’s what Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, the U.S. Occupy movement, the outraged in Madrid, the protesters in Egypt, Mexico or Colombia have demonstrated. They, and many more, just take a walk into the street and are subjected to the same personal experience that inspired “The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury — coincidence? In a world of full-blown McCarthyism, when the reporter [the character Leonard Mead] was arrested by police while walking late at night, they asked him, “What are you doing?” The writer simply replied, “Putting one foot before the other ….”

What the United States fears is this: The universal policing it is creating will go out of control, not following the route that it has dictated. The better part of the citizenship is nonconformist — and has always been — so as not to have to write, as does Winston in his secret diary in “1984”: “April the 4th, 1984. To the past, or to the future. To an age when thought is free. From the Age of Big Brother, from the Age of the Thought Police, from a dead man … greetings.”

It is a crucial resistance battle against conformity and individual control exercised from technology and mass media wielded by the powerful. In confronting that line of thought and action Barack Obama recently said in an interview with CNN: “But what I recognize is that we’re going to have to continue to improve the safeguards and, as technology moves forward, that means that we may be able to build technologies that give people more assurance, and we do have to do a better job of giving people confidence in how these programs work.”

He was talking specifically about the surveillance programs, and control of the National Security Agency … Big Brother entering everyone’s house.

Walking, that is, putting one foot in front of the other ….

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