Thursday, June 20, 2013

Transparency & Secrecy Can Coexist

King Solomon said, "to everything there is a season" -- an appropriate place and time.

There are times when secrecy, aka privacy is good. During those times, transparency is not.

People need privacy -- solitude. To walk among the trees. To work out their feelings and thoughts.

Couples need privacy.

Families need privacy.

Religious communities need privacy.

Organizations need privacy.

Politicians need privacy.

There is no exception to this rule.

Privacy is not inherently suspicious. But it has become so. It is bad manners for example to refuse to be in a photo.

I was watching a crime show on TV. They were questioning a wide range of possible suspects. 

The policeman said, "Where were you on the night of the crime?" 

The suspect responded, "I was driving around in my car."

"And then what?" asked the policeman.

"I went to the diner," said the suspect.

"Do you have a receipt?"

"No!" and the suspect slammed his hand down on the table. Like, can't I even get a cup of coffee? (But we, the audience, were not supposed to be sure.)

Privacy is a "problem" nowadays. We as a society have ceased to respect it. In the most fundamental ways.

My kid won't go to the mall unless she is going with a friend. 

I am told that NOBODY does this. To be alone is to be weird.

We waaaaaayyyyy overvalue transparency. We know it is ridiculous the lengths to which this craze has gone. But we can't stop ourselves.

Imagine your computer were transparent to hackers - no firewall. Ridiculous right?

But we ask for all secrets, the secrets and the secret processes, that keep us safe to be revealed.

The issue is balance. Yes we need to know certain things. Yes we should hold people accountable to their promises and to the law.

No we do not need to know everything. Nor would we want to.

As George Orwell once said:

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

* All opinions my own.