This quote from Gandhi prompted me to write this piece:
“The things that will destroy us are: politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice.” Mahatma Gandhi
Edward Snowden has brought America on its chin. A delicate looking young man who suffers from epilepsy has the mighty nation of America scrambling. Was it really asleep when he left Hong Kong for Moscow? Or could it just not make up it’s mind how to respond to a man who has come to symbolize the citizen’s right to know in a democracy? In a somewhat delayed reaction, after revoking his citizenship, they are now hunting him down publicly with unprecedented zeal.
I don’t know what my views are about Snowden’s judgement. He may have been somewhat misguided in his idealistic view of American democracy. I have seen more years than him and know that a country like America cannot propagate notions of freedom, liberty and equality or grandstand as a world super power, with that power being quickly eroded, unless they are also engaged in covert espionage over countries that are closing in on them with opposing ideologies and notions of how countries and citizens should be governed and managed. China is a case in point. So what exactly is America the mighty trying to prove going after this slight young man who betrayed his previous employer, the National Security Agency by blowing the whistle on their surveillance of Americans and other nations? Making an example of him for the rest of America, lest this should set a trend? Flexing their muscle at nations that dare challenge their right to bring down the heavy hand of reprisal on him? Or using this as a litmus test to gauge their stature and bargaining power on the world stage? It may be all of the above. Sadly, what it is not doing, is demonstrating how their actions uphold the lofty principles enshrined in their constitution.
America is reacting not from a place of principles but of fear. When a nation plays politics without principles and lacks clarity of conviction, then it loses the public relations battle, its stature as a leader and the trust of its citizens. Needless to say, such actions do not engender patriotism – quite the reverse. This occurrence could have been handled with dignity and grace. As things stand it will go down in history as that watershed moment when America lost face on the world stage, lost the trust of its citizens and lacked the leadership to play politics with principles.