h1

NSA HEADLINES AGAIN

December 18, 2013

I think Snowden and the NSA is a good example of generational differences we all struggle with in our world today.

On one side are the Traditionalists and early Boomers who remember not only PARTYLINE phones and 4-digit phone numbers, but telephone operators and neighbors listening to our phone conversations,  McCarthy witch hunts, constant threats of nuclear war, air-raid drills in grade school, and scary confrontations with the Communists/Soviet Union…all elements that represent the 20-25 years of life in the world emerging post-World War II…and the rise of US dominance in that world.

Patriotism and pride in our country trumped what we viewed as inconvenience in communications.  As a country, we all could relate story after story of how that early precursor to the CIA gathered data to aid in the “war effort”…tapping phones  and telegraph systems to gather information that helped us win a world war-eventually stopping enemy attacks against our country from Pearl Harbor forward.

And so, in general, we had an out-dated perspective when we experienced terrorists attacks of the 90s- first off-shore, and eventually with 9-11 on our own soil once again.

Unfortunately, a very different world had emerged in America by 2001, and we were still governed by traditionalists and early boomers who made some significant miscalculations as they combined WWII-era thinking and 21st century technology to “fix” the new emerging problems and attacks.  And as I continue to say over and over, what worked and was applauded in 1950 is a great misfit in today’s world.

For all the good that can be credited to the Greatest Generation and the emerging Boomers – they also pushed hard for the changes and advances in technology that soon outgrew their wildest imagination… without really understanding the consequences.

Not only that, they raised later-generation Boomers, Gen X-ers, and Gen Y offspring with very different perspectives.  “ME FIRST”, “I know better”, “I’m worth more” reigned supreme; the idea that “no pain; no gain” was lost.  Individualism emerged with all its foibles AND advantages.  It led to different thinking and technological advances that have changed the world–one more time…and brought with it both good and bad attitudes in our “American” thinking of “what’s best”.  With that came the birth of the NSA…perhaps one of the last contributions of 20th century thinkers but fueled and criticized by emerging leaders for the future.

However, there are no “tested” rules for this emerging group of leaders…just as there were no rules as we progressed through a colonial life to an agrarian society powered by slaves, to the beginnings of industrialization and eventually, a century of world wars.

Every transition in our history has been painful; so far, every transition has led to a better, stronger America, and every transition has needed leadership…not from the elders but from the visionaries of the young – working WITH the elders to prepare us for the future.

Transitional leaders do not always emerge as heroes; they make mistakes, they change their course based not on “here is how it has always been done” but on “here’s the vision of where we need to go; I am willing to explore the best way to get there as we search for a path through uncharted territory together.”

If we reflect on the past, those early visionaries of change often seem to be lost; but in the end, they teach us not only how to get “there”, but also how to avoid costly detours along the way.

I supported Obama for President (twice) for just that reason…he was grounded in a world I knew and understood, but he represented new thinking that reflected the need for change, for testing new approaches as we forged ahead into unknown territory for which the playbook was yet to be written.

I do not support Snowden as a whistleblower for exactly the same reason – in reverse.  He witnessed something he did not agree with.  He chose not to have a dialogue with anyone on how best to proceed for the good of all, but chose a path of instant “personal recognition” with very high risks – to himself, and to our country.  His actions continue to beg for the spotlight and not for a discussion and solution. He chose a path he knew would bar him forever from the very country he said he was concerned about.  Why?  I can only believe it was for instant gratification, personal fame and recognition-not concern for the country or its citizens.

With roots so firmly planted in the second half of the 20th century, I recognize that without constant monitoring, I am subject to that immediate post-WWII thinking first, and then slowly, listen, learn, and rethink.  That paid off for me as an early “pioneer” of women leadership in the business world.  I disagreed with the attitude of the times; I did not draw attention to myself with rowdy protests; I quietly outsmarted the system, changed attitudes, and helped break ground for the advancement of women in business.

And so, Snowden’s approach is unthinkable to me.  Traitor/Spy vs Whistleblower ?  Although I believe his motivation was personally motivated, in the end, I think he will prove to be both.  He has made us focus on NSA and given us an opportunity to discuss what it was meant to be, what it is, and if/how adaptations can be made in the 21st century context going forward.

Yet, Snowden’s individual immediate gratification, “ME FIRST”, “I know better” attitude has hurt the very country that give him the right and freedom to speak out.  I think there was a better way.  Craving spotlight and fame, he chose not to take a preferred route.  For that he will never be a hero to me.

Nevertheless, we as Americans, still have to address the issue.  What is the NSA; what is its mission; what are the wins and what are the risks?  And are they worth it?

And then, for me, is the second question:  Why do we object and protest when the government gathers meta-data and yet most of us seem JUST FINE with the hours stolen from us every day by the corporate world doing exactly the same thing?

 

  • How much time do you spend watching commercials on TV-targeted to you because commercial spying reveal your habits?

  • How much time do you spend scrolling through hundreds of unsolicited e mail commercials you receive every day because commercial spying reveal your habits?

  • How much time is stolen from you deleting, unsubscribing and blocking unwanted commercial intrusions because commercial spying reveal your habits?

  • How much time do you spend on-line trying to get rid of pop-up commercial intrusions as you search for a fact or data you need/want because commercial spying reveal your habits?

  • How much junk snail mail does your postman deliver (and how much do you PAY the government to PAY him) because commercial spying reveal your habits?

  • Why is it okay for the commercial world to intrude, take over your life, brainwash you into believing you have a NEED for something you did not even know existed?  Why is it okay for corporate executives to be paid $millions annually to SPY ON YOU; and pay their workers minimum wage for doing the dirty work?

THEN ask yourself what the big deal is with NSA having your phone number.  Do they bother you with incessant robo-calls all evening?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: