Evolving Peace

A site that is progressing for the goal of everlasting peace within ourselves, our family, our friends, our country and our planet !

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Lives of Others

Sunday was a rainy/snowy afternoon and instead of the usually outdoor activity we went to the Savoy Theater to watch a movie. For those outside of Montpelier, The Savoy is a small and cozy independent theater in town, unlike the mega-pictures that litter our American landscape. I for one am not a big fan of the big screen or movies in general, so yesterday’s choice of activity was an exception for it was a date, since I have a partner who is frequently captivated by movies. The movie of choice wasn’t the Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles or some other Hollywood fluff story but a powerful description of life in post-World War II East Germany. “The Lives of Others”, I heard others saying “is the best movie I have seen in a long time.”

The general story line revolves around the STASSI (East Germany’s secret police) and their campaign to monitor and place under surveillance suspected citizens. The central characters were a playwright, an actress and a STASSI agent. The movie follows the surveillance of a famed East German Playwright that was ordered to be watched by the Minister of Culture. While we have been taught here in America that part of the greatness of our country is that we do not have this type of activity going on here, a casual observer of the movie can be look at it as more evidence of the greatness and freedom we Americans have. On the contrary, I looked at it as what the evolution of current political policies of the United States could lead to.

The either your with us or against” mentality can lead to a slippery slope that brings American society further away from freedom and into an oppressive totalitarian government and if we as we society do not watch our freedoms we could lose them. One scene of the movie shows a STASSI agent declaring that he enjoys the monitoring of artists, since it is so much more entertaining than the usually peaceniks or preachers. That tactic should sound familiar to us here since our government has been caught illegally spying on peace activists and religious organizations. Who is our country spying on?

While we may not have the STASSI or the fear of it, the encroachments on our civil liberties have been moving closer towards that. The advent of 9/11 created a whole new federal department, The Department of Homeland Security to protect the nation. Yes, the country needs protection from future terrorist attacks; however it has become just another secretive bureaucratic institution that the nation already ahs enough of. All ready the country has the FBI, the CIA, The NSA, The Secret Service, Military Intelligences and thousands of other police forces to “monitor and protect” us.

The President had declared as a reassurance to our civil liberties that “any time you hear the word ‘wire-tap’ we must get a court order.” The Federal Intelligence Surveillance ACT of 1978 set up secret courts for extreme cases that needed jurisdiction in secrecy. As a result of the abuses of power by the Nixon administration Congress set limitations and created a system that supposedly checks on indiscriminate abuses of power. While I am hesitant about secret courts, the President and his administration deem them unnecessary and have spied on hundreds of citizens without any oversight.

On top of those misdoings, it has been discovered that the CIA has had secret torture and detention sites throughout the world, in violation of international laws. The famed Guantonoma Bay facility has irked the attention of humanitarian groups and civil libertarians throughout the world. Meanwhile, individuals are deemed “enemy combatants” at the government’s discretion and not allowed trials. At present rate there are little safeguards to prevent these tactics from spreading to the home front. We can already see it set in motion by the egregious firing of US District Attorneys. Firing for political purposes is a dangerous precedent and it creates a system of career opportunism and party loyalty over justice and laws. The justice department is not a tool to orchestrate political vendettas.

Documentation is strong on how far the government has begun to remove your civil liberties and it seems that the majority of the nation our gladly and willingly trading in their rights. Thankfully a few individuals are standing up against that system. The truth of the matter is that the country has not been brought to the status of East German as of yet, but as a shadowy reminder from the past, we as a population have to be weary of the forces from above. Years ago, at a physical therapists office I saw a sign that revealed the message “Use it or Lose It,” likewise today the message is as strong as ever, Civil Liberties “Use it or Lose it.”

Robb Kidd

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” George Orwell


At August 04, 2010 9:36 AM, Anonymous Danish said...

Its truly good movies, I know not all people could enjoy watch The Lives of Others, What is truly amazing is that this is Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's directorial debut, and he maintains a masterful hand throughout and keeps the story and the tension rolling from the first scene of interrogation which is filmed back and forth between a tape educating new Stasi as to interview techniques and to the actual cell itself where it was recorded.


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