A Humble Suggestion For Our Public Servants
Stop. Just stop.
There's a temptation to call that solution to many of our problems ridiculously simplistic but there can be a lot of truth - and power - in simplicity. Sometimes things really are black and white, requiring less application of obfuscation and more of Occam's Razor.
In recent weeks, there have been a number of stories and statements made by public officials, all professing some degree of regret for not speaking up sooner - or at all - when they ran into something questionable. On release of the so-called "CIA torture report," agency Director John Brennan called some of the methods used "abhorrent" and worthy of "repudiation." I cannot imagine that he was unaware of these methods while they were in use, yet it took public exposure to bring about his condemnation of them.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper blatantly lied to Congress about whether American citizens' communications were being monitored by the NSA, but later redefined his statement as "being the least untruthful" thing he could have said. Apparently, this was the same period in which he rolled out a new strategy for his intelligence officers, which stressed ethical principles including "truth." Call it what you will, it doesn't change the fact that a direct question was shamefully avoided.
According to this Associated Press article, in 2009, "some NSA executives voiced strong objections to the program, current and former intelligence officials say. The program exceeded the agency's mandate to focus on foreign spying and would do little to stop terror plots, the executives argued." This preceded Edward Snowden's actions and the subsequent scandal, and warned then-Director of the NSA, Keith Alexander, of the moral danger this road offered the agency. The warnings went unheeded and history was written.
We can go on and on about the infringements and encroachment of "government," but government is nothing without willing enforcers. Regulations, laws, department policies, agenda-driven strategies of "the powers that be" are all toothless without those willing to implement them. You have a moral obligation to question what you do and to accept personal responsibility for your part in furthering what you believe to be wrong, whether your role is crucial or menial.
Just... stop. Take a stand for what you believe in.
The actions of one person can make a difference. The courage in refusing to be part of what you believe to be wrong will inspire others to do the same. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, "Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean." You don't need to clean the whole world, just the small portion of it at your own front door. You don't need to throw yourself into the gears to stop the machine, just stop being a cog within it. You will not be alone for long.
Sometimes, it really is that simple.