With 25 years in health care, I see human health and disease as metaphors for many of the ills in our world.
For instance: there really is no way to separate environmental issues from human health. Our planet is sick and getting sicker, and so are we. And yet, as obvious as it is, we are blind to it; failing to act, unwilling to change anything, and hoping science, doctors, or God will save us from ourselves before it is too late.
With that perspective, civil liberties are a lot like health. Americans claim to want and value them above all else. Our civil liberties define us as Americans, as our health defines us as people. But most fail to see our civil liberties, like our health, being stolen from us and slipping away.
Pandemic fear is consuming us like a cancer, while the treatment is getting progressively more invasive into our lives, eroding our civil liberties one by one. We are surrendering our freedoms to a government that has a long history of betraying our trust; a government that is increasingly doing the biddings of corporations and the rich over the best interests of we, the people. They won’t misuse or abuse the power they have grabbed at the expense of our civil liberties -- will they?
Legislation has already passed that expands the government’s powers: to wiretap and spy on us, to detain us indefinitely, extradite us for rendition, and now, target and kill us, all without charges or a trial; while limiting our right of assembly and freedom to protest to redress our grievances. Our democracy is only a shadow of what it was.
We all have different thresholds for what is acceptable. To many, civil liberties lost are a small price to pay for the false sense of security they get in return; as many share the delusional belief that medical screening and daily medicating somehow equate with health. Others, like me, choose to safeguard our health and civil liberties rather than entrust them to others.
We choose not to lose them, wait until it is too late, and then fight, hope, or pray to get them back.
What is your threshold? Will you, and too many others, wait until you have lost most of your freedoms, including those that let you speak out without fear of your government? History is filled with examples of repressive governments whose populace adopted this failed strategy.
Just like the ongoing (42-plus years) futile war on cancer, the war on terrorism will be filled with promises of false hope. Both wars will continue to generate huge corporate profits and leave a wake of death. But, as both are directed at the symptoms and not the causes, neither will ever be won. Just like you can’t get healthy by fighting disease, you can’t make peace by waging war.
Peter D. May