Friday, September 29, 2006

Liberty

You ever get the feeling that eternal vigilance might be a discount price, after all?

We're already pretty wised up, lots of us. We know the politics of fear, we know what craven little despotisms masquerade as patriotism. Nobody here is fooled by terror mantras chanted by august congressmen who can only think of november. We've seen this playbook before; there's nothing new under the sun. A pretty vigilant bunch are we.

But it didn't work. We just forfeited. We did just the thing we weren't supposed to do. We stripped the powers from our institutions and blinded our courts and lamed our laws and we placed final judgment in the hands of a man. And it doesn't matter, in this case, that he's a small and limited man. Even if he was the man that some true believers fantasize him to be, it would be a treachery, what we've done. We're heirs to a rare creed that our system is up to any challenge, that it thrives on the bright light of scrutiny, that justice is indivisible, that we do not have to compromise human dignity for victory. But we chucked it all for secrecy, fear, and the weakness of closed doors. We did all that. And then what? We got angry, we watched some tv, we had a drink, we did our laundry. In the rooms, the women come and go, speaking of Michaelangelo.

I suppose something dear as liberty must have a higher price than all that.

Or to say it more clearly, what does a person do?

I don't know, and I have tried. I want something more than writing a check or talking to my friends. I want an action that exacts something from me, that puts me at risk, that marshals my will. Because knowing what's going on and not liking it doesn't cut it. I'm as complicit as hell and I want out of it.

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