Ready or not, all secrets will be revealed
To God belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and the day on which the end of time will happen, a day on which prattlers will lose out. And you will see every people kneeling; every people will be summoned to its record: "Today you are being repaid for what you used to do. This record of Ours speaks about you in truth; for We have been transcribing what you have been doing." As for those who believed and did good works, their Lord will admit them into divine mercy. That is the evident success. And as for those who scoffed, were not My signs recited to you, yet you were arrogant, and were sinning people? And when it has been said that the promise of God is true, and there is no doubt about the end of time, you have said, "We do not understand what the end of time is; we suppose it merely speculation, and we cannot be sure." And the evils they did will be manifest to them, and what they used to sneer at will have surrounded them.
– Qur’an, 45:27-33
No matter what a Man’s foul character may be,
Though he imagines it is concealed from the people,
It shall be revealed.
– Zuhayr b. Abi Sulma, Favorite seventh century Arabian poet of Umar b. al-Khatab
In the seven years I spent with Mauritanians who are Bedouin people of the Sahara, what struck me most about them was the transparency in their lives. They live without walls, and hence what the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung termed the "shadow self," which holds our repressed weaknesses and darker side, seems wholly absent from their personalities. I never saw the Bedouins hide anything from me. Even when they go to relieve themselves, it is often in open space. Once I was with a particularly gruff Bedouin, and in the middle of our conversation, he turned around, walked a few paces from me, and, taking cover with his outer robe, he dropped his pants, squatted, urinated, cleaned himself with sand, returned, and continued the conversation.
Bedouins are entirely comfortable in their skin and completely unself-conscious. If I intruded on a Bedouin without warning, he did not suddenly become nervous or uneasy; he remained calm. Even after many years in "civilized" society, Bedouins retain an uncanny openness. Their homes in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital, always have open doors. A hungry person, upon smelling food being served, will sometimes walk in from the street, eat a meal with them, say little, and depart as unobtrusively as he appeared.
In societies that have walls, closets, and private bathrooms, we develop a keen sense of privacy early on. We also do things in private that we would never do in company. Some of us develop profoundly dark sides; a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality seems quite common in modern society. When we read the statistics in books like Pornified, we can only be horrified at the pervasiveness of people watching pornography; the man next to us in the grocery store line might return home only to settle in for "kiddie" porn on his home computer. Do an online search on registered sex offenders, many of whom are pedophiles, and you might find one living down the street from you. Too many people are hiding things. Wives often know the truth about their "upstanding" husbands, and men may have far more secrets than women, who undeniably have their own share.
So what's all the fuss about Wikileaks? These wikipeaks into the unseemly side of the American Empire have caused quite a stir – and quite a backlash. Julian Assange was arrested for what may end up being trumped up sexual charges in an obvious attempt at distracting people from the real story. The U.S. Attorney General is seeking excuses to bring charges against Assange for what the American media does routinely. Clearly, the war is on. Luke Skywalker-like hackers are whittling away with Wikileaks at the Empire, and the Empire is striking back.
What intrigued me is not so much what is revealed – after all, many of us knew, didn't we? And so far, the crimes and transgressions revealed are not as severe as what the earlier Pentagon Papers revealed. But they are far more disturbing. The recent release of diplomatic cables shows the duplicitous nature on a daily basis of the inner workings of American diplomacy – the "shadow self" of America. Our government demands transparency from corporations and from its citizens in detailed tax returns. Employers do background checks on us, and our credit histories and medical records are routinely reviewed by strangers. Even our time on the internet is now monitored in many places; our phones are tapped with judicial consent. So why should our governments, especially in democratic societies, be exempt from what is routinely done to us? They are public servants, aren't they?
Well, the fact of the matter, as the Wikileaks exposé so cogently reveals, is that they are not serving us – they are serving the Empire's corporate profit-making, its selling of arms, and its oil interests that fuel our cars and their private jets. The corruption in dealing with Afghanistan, highlighted in these recent leaks, had initially shocked some people. But, all things considered, Afghan corruption pales by comparison to our own corruption on Wall Street, not to mention Main Street. Despite the moral depravity we witnessed in the recent financial scandals, everything is back to business as usual. The fat cats are once again doling out multimillion-dollar executive bonuses with our bailout money, as if the party never ended. Our mail boxes are again being stuffed with those same ridiculous credit card offers that had stopped a couple of years ago. The banksters are back in business, thanks to Henry Paulson, Larry Summers, et al. who cleaned out the national treasury in broad daylight, while Congress and the Senate applauded their patriotism. Unbelievable. Jesse and Frank James are no longer robbing them as outlaws: they're on the board of directors. Al Capone must be turning over in his grave.
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