It is the first day of the New Year; a year – like all years – with great potential for change. People all around the globe right now are making pointless resolutions that they have no intention of keeping- loose five pounds, start going to the gym more, give up smoking, stop beating the wife, and so on. What if taking care of oneself did not have to be a resolution, it was just the way we live; if we don’t like something that we’re doing, we stop. Instead, people should be making New Year’s resolutions to help other people, people that really need it. If we all resolved to spend an hour a week doing something to help – volunteering at a co-op, helping the homeless, or even writing letters to newspapers and representatives – 2008 can truly be a revolutionary year.
A new report has been released showing that citizens in countries throughout the European Union and in the United States are losing their individual rights to privacy. I really do not see any benefits in spying on people in general. I agree that if the government has strong reason to believe that someone is consistently breaking a law than they should have the right to watch this individual, but all the cameras popping up on street lamps and phones being tapped for unimportant reasons, are not doing anything to make people safer. The most interesting thing about the study showing that we are quickly losing our privacy was that it pointed out why; it’s not because it’s a different world after 9/11 or because there are so many bad people that we all need to be watched; it – like almost everything our government does – is because of money. One of the biggest examples of this is good old John Ashcroft; the man helped write and pass most of the laws on the PATRIOT ACT, paving the way for spying. Then he resigns from his job as Attorney General, spends a few minutes relaxing, and wastes no time in opening up his own lobbying firm, working mostly to help security companies get spying contracts. Gotta love Capitalism.
In Pakistan, it has been announced that the elections scheduled for next Tuesday may be delayed. The party in power (the party of Pervez Musharraf) does not want the opposing parties to use the sympathy and anger that the residents are feeling over the death of Benazir Bhutto to propel them to victory, while the opposing parties are screaming that the elections are going to be rigged anyway. The US is asking that the elections be held as planned, but is making sure to say that if they aren’t, that would be fine too. My feeling is that no matter what happens – delayed elections, non-rigged elections – there might be some problems. Rioting and violence have slowed over the past few days, but are still occurring in some providences. Once again, if the people would stop aimlessly lighting things on fire and throwing rocks through windows and instead have meetings and organize, a lot more can be accomplished. If the elections go on as schedule and appear to be rigged, the people can refuse to acknowledge them. Who cares if Musharraf’s party claims victory; if the people act as if the other parties won, then the other parties won. Organization is the key to anything the Pakistani’s want to accomplish- not violence; violence is what got them into the situation in the first place.
Another country that has been having its own problems concerning elections is Kenya. Obvious corruption has led to the reelection of Mwai Kibaki and the people are taking to the streets to demand justice. They are being shot at and killed, with a death toll that is somewhere around 250, and tribal violence is increasing every day. I give to them the same solution that would work in Pakistan; refuse to acknowledge that Kibaki is president, and instead follow the man who really won. I don’t think violence is always a bad thing, but when you are on the side with numbers and fighting against the side with weapons, then violence is not going to work. Strikes, non-obedience, and sacrifices are needed to overcome the tanks and guns. Either way, it’s still amazing that people in almost all other countries react so strongly to being treated unfairly, while most of the time in the United States people seem to accept most things that are done to them, as long as they remain “safe”.