I didn’t know much about Edward Snowden when I went to the movies recently and saw director Oliver Stone’s film titled “Snowden”. About the most I knew was how he formerly worked for both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), the latter of which he copied and leaked classified information without prior authorization that revealed numerous global surveillance programs.
When all of this became big news back in 2013, I remember how everyone suddenly became polarized over the issue. Some said he was a hero for doing what he did, claiming he was a savior of sorts, while others said he was a traitor and should be tried as one. Personally, I never held an opinion on him back then and honestly I still don’t, but what this movie did help me to think a lot more about was the privacy we all think we have in this world.
I would venture to say that most of us probably use a cell phone, e-mail, a computer with a camera, and a number of social media outlets every single day. Frankly, I never put much thought to any of them being looked at by anyone in the CIA or NSA or anyone else for that matter, probably because I have nothing to hide, but there’s the strong reality that at some point in time or another something of mine was looked at by someone in the security administration of our government. At least that’s the impression I got from the film when Snowden, played quite wonderfully by Joseph Gordon Levitt, began to see all the spy software that was in place to invade the lives of even the most common of US citizens.
Reading e-mails, Facebook postings, and text messages, looking into cell phone call logs, and spying through cameras on computers without their lights being turned on were just some of the many things Snowden uncovered and leaked to the world. I can’t say I was shocked when I learned exactly what his leak was really about, as I made an assumption long ago that the government was probably always doing this.
So while many have been in uproar ever since Snowden’s leakage, it ultimately hasn’t phased me. Between my writing on my blog that I make public for the world to see and what I share at countless recovery meetings on a weekly basis, I have already fully exposed myself on every level. Simply put, I have no dark secrets. But there are many out there in the world who still do. Not that long ago though I was still one of them.
I used to have plenty of secrets that I wouldn’t have wanted anyone, especially the government looking into, such as the acts of indiscretion I was having with married individuals, all of which could have been seen through my emails and text messages, or even by spying on my phone or through my computer’s camera. But thankfully, I’m not doing any of that behavior anymore or anything else for that matter that might put me at risk with the government or anyone else.
Yet I know there are countless people out there who want to keep their privacy and their secrets protected. Do they deserve that? Of course, but in a day and age where terrorism is a serious threat, especially within the digital realm, the line between what’s acceptable government behavior and what’s not is becoming overly blurred. That’s precisely what Snowden showed back in 2013 and what this film portrayed.
So while I understand how some think of Snowden as a hero and others, a traitor, what I think is that it ultimately doesn’t matter. Snowden simply bared something many of us had already wondered deep down every time we used our own digital media, especially if we had something to hide. And I’m sure somewhere in our government today what Snowden exposed is still being done in some fashion, thus I feel the only solution that works for me to deal with this possibility is to just not have any secrets.
Originally I started on that path by revealing all of them to God, then it was with the sponsors I had in recovery from addiction, and finally it’s been with everyone else through my writing and my speaking these past few years. It’s been totally freeing ever since and I plan to keep it that way.
Nevertheless, “Snowden” is a great film that will make you think about your privacy and whether you really have any of that in this country anymore these days. For me that doesn’t matter though, because I’m a firm believer in not hiding anything these days, not with God, and not with any of you. Because in doing so, I truly found a spiritual freedom that never came when I used to keep all those secrets.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson