“Let nothing be done in your life, which will cause you to fear
if it is discovered by your neighbor.”—Epicurus
The vast majority of us adhere to this Epicurean maxim—99% of the time—without even thinking about it. Ah, you say, but I’m actually shadier than you think. Really, what do you do? Smoke weed from time to time? Watch porn once in a while? Tell white lies to avoid going to boring parties? Drive too fast on empty highways? Come on, folks, honestly, get real! Many of your neighbors are doing the same stuff, and, regardless, in the grand scheme of things, matters such as these—matters of personal piety—don’t really amount to much. You’re not that shady, really you’re not; and, if you are in fact increasing the suffering of the world in some small way, the increase is in all likelihood negligible.
The same cannot be said of the power elite, nor can it be said of the poorly-paid guards that defend them: they regularly do hurtful things which cause a great deal of pain and suffering—this, quite reasonably, causes them to crave secrecy and fear discovery. They really don’t want their neighbors to know what they’re up to: because they are indeed shady—very shady, and they have a great deal to hide, a great deal more than you and me. Consequently, they need privacy far more than we do. This is made manifest day after day in the news. Consider the following four examples, chosen more or less at random, off the top of my head: the Wiki-leaks revelations; the democratic uprisings in the Arab world; the videotaped shooting of a 14-year-old boy by Brazilian police; the videotaped police brutality at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Examples such as these ought to give pause to those who keep whining and complaining about Facebook, Twitter, the internet, cell phones, government surveillance, and corporate conspiracies.
It’s true, we are entering a more public world, a world with less privacy—but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
—John Faithful Hamer