As an integral part of my experience with this course, I aim to expose myself to new information and different ways of thinking about things. Especially in light of the recent delve into the Manning incident, I am left questioning some of the basic assumptions that inform my core worldview and fundamental ethics. A common assumption, made by people throughout history, is that they are “the good guys”. They are a lone light shining into a dark world, and with each action, they improve the state of society. It’s obvious that the US political and economic system is the most just, so our desire to spread it to others is altruistic in nature.
However, after being (re)exposed to atrocities like “Collateral Murder”, and our response to the hero that brought this horrific injustice to light, my basic assumption that we are fundamentally “the good guys” is called into question. Looking at the trajectory of our nation, and assuming that existing trends persist, the future I see is not an inspiring one. Each passing day, we creep closer to the totalitarian surveillance state depicted in Orwell’s 1984. The fact that some would dare call Manning and Snowden not heroes, but traitors, speaks volumes about how far we have fallen from the founding ideals of our democracy. It becomes increasingly difficult to apply the traditional black and white “good guys” vs. “bad guys” concepts to our modern society: lines blur, exceptions are made, and principles erode. Maybe we aren’t the good guys anymore. Maybe it doesn’t even matter?