Monday, March 19, 2012

"I Am A Terrorist."

Over the last year the world has seen an unprecedented rise in civil revolution, civil protest and civil activism around the globe. As a result, governments have the responsibility to maintain peace and order while at the same time pursuing avenues that will appease the public or control them. Sadly, this has resulted in many governments and authorities creating threats, both abroad and domestically, out of innocent people. Despite the title, I am in fact, NOT a terrorist. I will however show you how easily it is for people like you and I, regular every day people, to become targets.

Buying Coffee
We're going to start here because if you are like one of the billions of other people around the world, chances are you buy a cup of coffee every once in a while. If you are like me, it is quite often daily. You should perhaps take a moment to consider how innocent an action this is. Sounds innocent enough doesn't it? You go to the café or coffee shop, order your favorite coffee (or maybe you're feeling risky and you try something new like a latte), take some change out of your pocket and pay the cashier. Congratulations you are now a potential terrorist according to the FBI.

That's right. You my friend, by purchasing your coffee with cash instead of plastic (that is just one of many similar articles from various sources. The entire document can be viewed here.). The Federal Bureau of Investigation has somehow managed to take such a mundane and common occurrence and turned it into a potential warning sign for a terrorist? Ask yourself how often you pay for you coffee with cash. Now think about how you see others pay. Heck, just think about it the next time you are waiting in line for a coffee. You and all those other people could be 'marked' as potential terrorists and be subjected to interrogation, arrest, investigation, surveillance, etc. 

What's that? You don't live in the United States? It's not your problem? Yes, it is. When it comes to terrorism, all the world's governments tend to adopt the same principles; at least when it suits them. How long before something this ridiculous is passed around to the RCMP here in Canada? Will it bother you then? Let's take a look at another example. 

Exercising Freedom of Speech
Surprised? Don't be. The example I'm going to present here may have some of you saying 'Well no duh! What were you expecting?'; others might find it rather surprising if they participated, knew someone who did or supported in spirit; and still to others it will come as no surprise at all. Being a member of the Occupy movement makes you a domestic terrorist; at least in England (and as I said before, these agencies generally adopt similar policies and methinks this one is probably globally recognized.).

Although I have not spoken as much about my work and time with Occupy Nova Scotia as I intend to, what I would like to make clear is that in no way was our particular encampment or movement ever, in any way, a terrorist threat. ONS was a peaceful group of individuals who shared a common identification of the decline and corruption of our political, social and economic structures and were drawn together to voice that concern. They came from every walk of life and there is no doubt in my mind that you know at least one person on a personal basis who was involved with Occupy in some way; wherever you may be.

The Occupy movement, both here in Halifax and abroad, was and is a peaceful and non-violent one. It does not encourage or condone violence or abuse in any form. These individual people are concerned citizens of their respected nations who are doing nothing more than exercising their right to free speech. They are standing up to tyrannical practices. They are good, peaceful people who are following the proper avenues allotted to them to effect change; their governments are answering with oppression and violence. 

What is a Terrorist?
What is a terrorist then? Well, what I don't think a terrorist is, is someone who pays for coffee with cash. Nor do I consider someone exercising their right to free speech as a terrorist. I think you, me and everyone else can come up with our own ideas of what a terrorist is or what terrorism means. It may be a little different for you than for me but I think that in the end, we would all come up with very similar ideas.

For me, a terrorist is anyone who threatens my life, my freedom or the world in which I live. No one person has the right to threaten the life, freedom or environment (and thus world) of any other. The value of your life is the same for mine and understanding this means understanding my definition. It sounds very broad when in fact it is very personal. It isn't something complex: just be nice to others, be nice to yourself and take care of your environment (that means taking considerations beforehand and not just in hindsight.).

There are many more examples of how every day, governments and their agencies are coming up with new and ridiculous ways to terrorize their citizens. Become engaged in politics. Find out what's going on in your own home towns and cities. You have the power to control the future; do not let it go to waste. If you squander this, you may wake up to find that it is you who is saying: "I am a terrorist."