- Extremely American
Edward Snowden: ‘No matter how small you think you are; you have power!’
Feb 25, 2021: The words of Edward Snowden are powerful words and come from someone who knows, all too well, the weaponized global machinery in place and aimed at all common men and women around the world. This article serves as a ‘call-to-action’ for every single member of our community. If you take anything away from this article, it is this. The power you hold is your ability to make a world of difference through the smallest of actions you take within your community of family and friends. Your beliefs, on their own, are not enough in these times; your beliefs must be matched by your actions that relate directly to your beliefs. And your actions, as small as you may think them to be, will make all the difference in your family which represents all the difference in your world.
For those not familiar with Edward Snowden, EA offers these biographical notes to lend proper context to this article. Edward Joseph Snowden is an American born intelligence contractor who is known for revealing the existence of secret wide-ranging information-gathering programs conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA). Despite his lack of formal education and training, Snowden’s advanced aptitude with computers resulted in employment at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2006. In 2009, Snowden left the CIA for a role at the NSA as a private contractor assigned to Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton. In 2014 Snowden participated in an interview with the Guardian newspaper with footage of that interview appearing in the documentary Citizenfour (2014). According to Britannica, “Among the NSA secrets leaked by Snowden was a court order that compelled telecommunications company Verizon to turn over metadata (such as numbers dialed and duration of calls) for millions of its subscribers. Snowden also disclosed the existence of PRISM, a data-mining program that gave the NSA, the FBI, and the Government Communications Headquarters 'direct access’ to the servers of such Internet giants as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple.” (Britannica – Michael Ray; June 17, 2020) In April of 2014, The Guardian and The Washington Post were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their efforts to report on the NSA leaks. Unfortunately for Snowden, the US Justice Department viewed his actions as a violation of his NDA’s with the CIA and NSA. According to the CIA and NSA, Snowden breached his NDA on the grounds that he did not submit his work for a formal internal prepublication review prior to release. Snowden, who was granted asylum by Russia (Putin) in 2014, remains in asylum in Russia to this day. His story and his ‘voice’ remain a powerful and more relevant than ever. The following collection of direct quotes were taken from Snowden’s recent 10-minute commentary (Edward Snowden - “Honest”; February 2021) and warrant deep reflection by our EA community, especially given the moment of time we all find ourselves in. Snowden’s comments specifically relate to ‘forced choices’ at the hands of increasingly dominant corporations and institutions. EA offers this collection of transcribed quotes as a way to carefully focus and reflect on Snowden’s extremely important words, themes and ideas in these times:
‘Life is intermediated by screens, we spend less time outside and more and more time staring into glass, or through glass, to connect with that larger world. As we see the world happening through these screens, life is increasingly feeling like something distinct from us, something apart from us, something that we are witnessing rather than participating in.” “I want you to think about the world as you see it and what you see happening in it. Is this your will, is this something you consented to? Did you agree with this? Institutional powers and corporations don’t seem to care about your answer to the question: is this what you wanted?” “FaceBook would say click ok to continue. If you don’t, you cannot continue. If you don’t, you can’t do anything because FaceBook controls the policy, and through the policy they control the platform, and through the platform they control the public. The reality is that all these institutions [like FaceBook] pretend that we consent to their actions, but I don’t think we agree to their 600 pages of legalise and their forced choices. If we don’t have an alternative but to click ‘ok’, then we don’t have a choice at all.” “The fact is that so many of our interactions in life are intermediated, as our lives are, by this ‘glass’. We are all being separated by a forced choice. We need to recognize that this is not consent, the law needs to recognize that this is not consent, and the companies need to recognize that this is not consent. And the only way this will happen is if we recognize this is not consent.” “We are seeing a divorce between the individual and the institution, in terms of power and accountability. We need to recognize that there seems to be nothing they can do that results in them facing a serious consequence. Whereas the smallest infractions of our lives – even civil infractions – are instantly crystalized and memorialized at the moment of mistake and captured into a permanent record that is held and controlled by these institutions. And yet we have no influence to change them.” “We are at a moment of regression and the only way it gets better again is through struggle and sacrifice because change is never something that is granted, concessions are not given to us by institutions who carry the power. Our rights are not gifts, they are prizes that are won. And the necessary change won’t happen without you, it won’t happen simply because you believe in something, it won’t happen because you only care about something. It will only happen when you stand for something. If you want things to change, you have to make things change and that change begins with you. It’s a small thing, its one conversation at a time, its not looking away, its not walking past someone who does the wrong thing. It’s saying that you don’t agree. Its trying to change the outcome, even in small ways. Its recognizing that you have power.” “To the people near you, to the world around you, in your workplace, in your community, in your country, you can make a difference. But the only time you make a difference is when you actively make a difference, when you make a choice to change things.” “The world is asking you right now, history is asking you right now, click ‘ok’ to continue.” Conclusion: Politicians, media and institutions would have you believe Snowden is a whistleblowing villain – they are wrong. As seems to always be the case with these menacing power brokers, they apply Alinsky-like tactics by accusing others of what they are and who they are. Reflect closely on Snowden’s sincere words (in the video and as transcribed) and ask yourself: Am I doing whatever I can, even in the smallest ways, to transfer my thoughts and beliefs into real and meaningful actions that change the world around me? Embrace and exercise the power that reflects through even the smallest of your actions – own and protect the world around you, your family, and your friends through the blessing of your ability to act. By: Extremely American Colin Wright