The Apple showdown, stirred yet again by the Belgium attacks, drove me to revisit an old essay titled "The Spy Who Loves Me" that I had penned for a local newspaper, at the height of the Government Surveillance controversy. I was curious to see if recent happenings had somehow changed my thought process. So I reread the reflection dated July 4, 2013, scrutinizing every carefully chosen word:
There are reports that the government is spying on us, surveying our phone calls, Facebook and other social media interactions. Many are outraged at the loss of freedom and erosion of our basic rights. All I have to say is that we lost our sense of freedom when evil flew into the Twin Towers that fateful September morning; our blitheness was blown up when twin evil ransacked our sacred city on a balmy March afternoon.
In an ideal world, I would love to preserve my privacy but these are less than perfect times; we are talking about ruthless terrorism in our daily lives, whether it is another day at work in a skyscraper or a day of doing good downtown. Spying on my "Status" to shield me is a small price to pay. I say bring it on -- I have nothing to worry for I have nothing to hide. I'd rather have Big Brother watch my back than have deranged brothers disrupt my life and my loved ones.
To my relief, I concluded that my views had not shifted in the slightest and to this day, I continue to be unequivocally on the side of the Government and support every attempt, however invasive, to ensure the safety of its citizenry; nevertheless I realized that something had indeed changed as a result of Apple's daring defiance. I now have even greater respect for the nation I've voluntarily made my home for the past two decades.
How fortunate am I to live in a country that values every opinion, however different, and welcomes debate and discussion around discordant views. Whether I believe that Apple is sincere in fiercely defending consumer privacy or this is simply a savvy tactic to garner mass support to benefit a self-serving capitalistic end, there is no denying that such a fiery battle of words is only possible (and welcome) in a country that values freedom above everything else. Most governments around the world see nothing wrong in forcing their citizens to follow Draconian laws and imposing harsh punishments when opposed. The watchdog group -- Human Rights Watch -- showcases incident after incident, one more horrific than the next, of how governments around the world, many of them "democracies", treat their citizens. The basic human rights that we take for granted in this country are lofty thoughts that most people around the world shudder to even entertain.
How astounding is it that Americans are not afraid to question their government and voice their opinions without fear of retribution. There may be no common ground but ample cause for dissent and plenty of dissension in between, but if and when the high court of the land, after carefully weighing the issues on either each side hands down its sacred verdict, all parties abide by it peacefully albeit reluctantly. This is a fascinating insight into democracy in action and a lesson for all, including our enemies. They may have temporarily succeeded in striking terror in our lives but will never succeed in permanently eradicating this unassailable sense of freedom, which every citizen, no matter how different, enjoys. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword and goes to show that every issue, however divisive, can be resolved peacefully. So in the end whether we side with or disagree with Apple, it is a joy and a privilege to see America's forefathers' inalienable dreams bear fruit.