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Trust and Safety: No Point to Greater Institutional Control?

Joined: 10/17/2011
Posts: 4
No war. No strife. No going hungry.

No free choice. No chance to innovate. No chance to live life to its fullest.

Imagine a dichotomous world that embraces those central tenants.

Does the first line sound like a utopia? The second a dystopia?

Paradoxically, the two come hand in hand. One cannot really exist without the other, just as morality needs depravity as a contrast. The one element that influences a society toward this distorted state is the power of institutions. As a society becomes increasingly managed by institutions such as the government and other regulatory bodies, our lives are concomitantly limited yet supposedly made “happier” and “safer.” In essence, we choose to exchange degrees of freedom in return for protection and security; accordingly, laws which protect also limit. Though Huxley conceptualized such a society in his Brave New World, the possibility of its evolution into reality seemed absurd at the time. Nowadays, however, such a possibility seems very much a reality. Therefore, we must question, “Is the cost of granting our institutions greater control worth the protection we receive? And are our institutions even truly protecting us?”

One representative case that has provoked the public’s concern is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Ever since the tragedy of 9/11, our government has been on alert for potential terrorist attacks and employed restrictive measures, such as the Patriot Act, to ensure civilian safety. Accordingly, the TSA has cracked down with, considered by some, extremely invasive measures to preclude any such terrorism incidents. Though the expected result is civilian safety and terrorist activity nullification, the actual results are not indicative of such success. Instead, innocents are being subjected to these invasive measures while suspicious persons are still able to sneak past security. Six-year-olds and even 95-year-old disabled elderly are being subjected to full body pat-downs, yet those like the “underwear bomber” and Nigerian American Noibi are still able to board planes. Although there are arguments for and against the TSA’s controversial screenings, the bottom line is that we are not protected. There are still lapses in security, and there are still those who, with strong intent to harm, will continue realizing their destructive goals. What we must perceive then, is that our institutions protect us to a certain extent; beyond that, however, we cannot entertain the false sense of security that leads to complacency. Past this point, we can no longer trust our institutions; they obviously cannot account for every malicious variable. Though laws and restrictions help, they ultimately cannot solve the root cause of all these insecurities: human nature. Therefore, we must not completely rely on our institutions but also on ourselves for protection. At some threshold, conceding our institutions greater control in exchange for protection becomes useless and dangerous, as evinced by the TSA’s policies. Only through self-reliance and a consciousness of our surroundings can we trust without apprehension. We must question, ask, and inquire, not mindlessly accept, to maintain fundamental freedoms. Only then can we avoid Huxley’s imagined world.
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