Today, the United States moves forward with plans to attack ISIS, alongside the help of unlikely allies. Our government does so aware of the fact that many, if not most Americans disapprove. The American population is fearful of ISIS. Clearly, our government is too. But our fears may stem from different places. And our solutions may vary drastically, too.
When there's such a great difference between what the American population thinks and wants, and what the government desires, how can we feel we're actually being represented? The government will claim they're acting in our best interests -- even if we don't know it. This is a fundamental aspect of how politicians and theorists believe modern governments work, even in democracies.
The idea goes back to Thomas Hobbes, a political philosopher who wrote in the 17th century. Hobbes, and others, described a phenomenon called the social contract. In the social contract citizens relinquish individual power with the idea that the government will protect them. The government, in turn, should have our best interests in mind -- even if we don't know it. It sounds good in principle.
But part of Hobbes and many other theorists' ideas also revolved around the notion that citizens are unaware, uninformed, and generally incapable of helping themselves. Yes, even in a democracy, this was the prevalent assumption.
The truth, however, is much different than the reality. People, particularly young people, are more involved than ever. It's our leaders who appear more and more disengaged, more distant, and more unwilling to reconcile their reality to ours.
We know we've been blatantly lied to; and that our leaders are out of touch. When Edward Snowden came forward with information about the NSA, we all held our breaths in collective horror. But now, that's old news. We're aware we're being watched, stalked and monitored. It's not even so much a question of what we know anymore. Or what we don't. Instead, there's the pervasive sense that there's a lot going on beneath the surface. We don't have to be fully conscious of it. We just need to have an inkling.
This is a frightening reality. Maybe in the 17th century -- maybe even in the 20th century we were more comfortable not knowing what our government was doing. Maybe then it was reasonable to think we're giving up some autonomy because it's in the best interest of everyone.
Today, this couldn't be further from the truth. We want clarity. We want transparency -- something Barack Obama promised, and quickly reneged on. The government may claim they're acting in our best interests. But what does our government expect when we citizens have come to expect the same, regardless of who's in power?
These are the open-ended lies we've grown accustomed to; the same way our government has grown accustomed to doing whatever they please. We, as citizens, can't possibly know everything, nor expect to have influence on every decision. But then again, we shouldn't feel more afraid of our leaders than ISIS. Or, in the least, we shouldn't feel we know more about what ISIS represents than our United States.