THE BLOG
06/25/2013 05:55 pm ET Updated Aug 24, 2013

Hoarding and Whistle-blowing

At the time of this writing Edward Snowden, the fugitive from U.S. justice for his having blown the cover off national surveillance tactics, is running both a maze and a race to find a safe haven somewhere in the world. I feel for him and also for Bradley Manning, the young man who leaked videos of U.S. forces mercilessly killing innocent Iraqi civilians. These men have made public property that wasn't theirs (illegal punishable acts) in order that we might see proof that our country's leaders perpetrate far more catastrophic (and morally, no less illegal) acts.

I've devoted these blog posts to my perspective from my garbage job, and while considering these men and their pursuit, have been thinking about clutter. We humans hoard things. This starts with beloved items no longer used. All clutter starts similarly. The fact of the clutter doesn't hit us until much later. But when the closet, basement, attic, shed or drawer is too full, it becomes the place we just don't go anymore unless situations compel us. Storage rooms run amuck become that which we'd sooner ignore than address.

The hoarder does not recognize his/her disease as a disease until it is such a colossal problem that the task of cleaning up after the disease requires that we turn a blind eye to the individual pieces and pile them indiscriminately on the curb and crush them in a truck (or two) and get 'em out of there. If we were to examine the pile as we threw it out, friends and family would thwart every attempt at cleaning with outbursts to save this item or that: "That's a perfectly good shirt, toaster, golf bag, stroller, etc... " When the piles are left in place in those sequestered spaces, rodents and other bottom-feeding creatures move in and thrive. The rule of thumb is that if you see one roach in your place, there are a thousand in the walls.

These two young men have forced me to recognize a correlation between household clutter and the entrenched methodologies our leaders prefer to obscure, so they might keep us all from examining what's really in those dark, hard to navigate places. In the corners where our worst national behaviors reside as proof of our flaws and rationalizations, there is no spring-cleaning attempt great enough to warrant a close inspection by the people who hold that clutter most near and dear. They want to keep it secret because they are the ones above all else who continue to live that same way, hoarding those same principles and ideals and barricading their own secrets into those same dank spots.

In my town there are people who seem almost proud of garages they can't open any more due to the clutter and overspill, for fear of not being able to close the door again. Likewise, our political system bloats from hoarded, old policies that don't work. We should clean house, yet attempts to do so will most likely be thwarted at each step by certain decision-makers clinging to their own disease-laden habits, who will point to individual policies one by one, claiming we shouldn't let this one or that one go because it still has life in it.

Systems that perpetuate this aren't run by politicians. It's the other way around: the politicians' decisions are often determined by their own greed, coupled with a thirst for power, as well as by others who share those same thirsts; and those pursuits are dictated by Wall Street, big oil and other leaders who run companies that deal in those and other arenas, which thrive by keeping secrets locked behind closed doors. Of course not all who rule, rule through abuse and manipulation, but it seems to me that we people are increasingly requesting transparency and are discovering systems and schemes designed to thwart it.

Each whistle-blower takes action as leader of an attempted intervention, but no matter the method nor number of concerned interventionists, just like the addict, it is up to the politician to self-diagnose his/her condition. Here in the U.S., the political right and left love pointing fingers at each other, claiming one injustice or another based on flawed logic, but I see some of what Obama, Boehner and all the others are doing now as an extension of what W., Rove, Katharine Harris and others did before them. Manipulation and abuse can be traced back in time, uprising to uprising, because as long as there has been "civilization", there has been abuse of power. Those power people get rich and/or powerful off the very stuff they perpetuate, claiming to work to fix it. The difference between the addict's choices and the misguided (inter-) national leadership is that the lone addict is not required by statute to act in the best interest of others.

Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden join the ranks of countless others worldwide whose acts violate laws put in place to prevent dissent and transparency. Those whose lifestyle bravery threatens will vilify it at all costs; and they will live in continued denial of their own contribution to the problem(s). This clutter problem can be and must be fixed through acts that insist on accountability. Some will resist with every iota of immoral integrity "musterable." But things are changing because the truth is that change is more natural than stasis. And sooner or later the clutter will be tossed.

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