Does the Patriot Act Violate Free Speech?
This short radio article which I found on the NPR web site brings to light a very important question in how far any government should take security measures before they become fundamentally self-defeating and destructive. The text of the article is available here.
The essence of the article, which refers to the nuances of The Patriot Act and only relevant in the USA, is that if an organisation is blacklisted by the State then anyone assisting the organisation, which would include conflict resolution training or expert assistance that meets a need of the organisation, the providers of that assistance would be committing a crime.
The issues that this article raises for me are that engaging in conversation to bring about a resolution to a problem (big or not so big) is still fundamentally alien to politicians and others.
Paradoxically, and a point made in the article, it is precisely such conversations which have brought about improvements and positive change: Northern Ireland is a good example but there are many others and many that we don’t hear about. As much as Tony Blair would like to be remembered for his work in Northern Ireland, many would point to the sustained efforts of small community projects, cross-denominational groups, conflict resolution training and, dare I say, the women (including the incredible Mo Mowlam), who really brought about sustained change and understanding.
When the people of the world experience or perceive a lack of abundance, there you will find conflict. A nice Western word for it might be competition and given that we are running out of a lot of things we take for granted and many people are seeing the economic conditions as a serious threat to their own abundance, there lies potential for a lot of “competition”.
So, if we can’t talk to people and you can’t teach them to talk to each other or provide expert skills to help them resolve competing interests, because they have been blacklisted by the state, then I guess we’ll have to shoot them!
On a happily ironic note and from the same web site, a wonderful interview with the Dalai Lama with a noteworthy comment on the future of the institution of Dalai Lama and with reference to the thought that China might try and install its own choice of Dalai Lama. His Holiness says:
If people feel that the Dalai Lama institution is no longer much relevant, then this institution will cease — no problem. It looks like the Chinese are more concerned about this institution than me.
And he chuckles in a way that just makes you smile.