Big Brother is Watching You: Or is He?

May 22, 2010
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Silence. Nothing was out of the ordinary on the autumn morning of September 11, 2001. But then, a foreshadowing wind swept over America as if the nation was taking its last breath, and a resounding BOOM spelled out one word: chaos. By the end of that day, a startling number of civilians faced death, with no warning and no goodbyes.

It was undoubtedly vital to ensure the safety of America and protect it from terrorist attacks, but as the security laws continued to increase, people began to look at their individual lives: privacy seemed to have become a new target. At the expense of the country’s safety, is the right to each citizen’s privacy and The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution being sacrificed? When it comes to the security of America, how far exactly is too far?

Among all the concerns that 9/11 has raised, there is one that ritually interferes with an important aspect of our country: loss of privacy. Generally, there are two opposing effects that governmental searches cause. Either the searches are not affective and are therefore harmful to the individual citizen, or they are successful at identifying potential threats, which further can protect the country as a whole. As the government continues to commit itself to intrusive searches, surveillance of all communication, and accessing personal records, some argue that the amendment may be close to violation. However, an increase in security may also lead to the public’s safety. While security is tightened during airplane baggage checks, several threats and risks can be eliminated. Also, through accurate systems of identification and surveillance of communication, identification of criminals and terrorist plans are revealed. Therefore, which defining aspect of our culture holds more value to our country? The importance of individual privacy and liberty, which is the quality that has formed the United States throughout history? Or the significance of combating terrorism to maintain harmony within our country’s borders and to preserve the unity we know today?

Above all else, the balance and harmony of our country is what makes this nation. Without it, the US would no longer hold the same worth that it is famous for: strength, stability, and unity. Protection of the country as a whole must undoubtedly come before the desires of its individuals. With one effortless shove, a country lacking a strong base can easily topple, regardless of the status in society it may have previously held. What is at stake—in this case being the strongest nation in the world—may be too great to risk.
As many people believe, the dystopian novel, 1984, by political writer George Orwell, portrays the possibilities concerning what the future holds for the US: a totalitarian society where “Big Brother is watching you”. But what they fail to notice is that the United States cannot be compared to the dystopian society set in 1984. In 1984, Big Brother controlled his nation of Oceania through the manipulation of fear and the hatred of the people. In contrast, America focuses substantially on inspiration instead of fear, helping people step forward, not backward, and supplying them with goals instead of restrictions. Oceania’s constant war with Eastasia, Eurasia, and Eastasia again was a lie, and with the manipulation of the people, the citizens were tricked into obeying the thought police and Big Brother. But during 9/11, the crime was a terrorist attack on the US, and the eyewitness was the entire country. The attack was real and the threats that the country faces are real too. In Orwell’s Oceania, there existed no reason for tight surveillance other than to suit the snooping needs of the government. However, the United States has a purpose for its increased use of surveillance, and that is to protect from these threats.
In the United States, while both are necessary to keep the country under control, there is not and will never be a perfect balance between privacy and security. Security of the country must come before privacy. Compromise is key and sacrifice is key. Inevitably, safety of the country must be secured, and the liberties of the people must be curtailed.

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