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(The following is the second of a Steemit exclusive series I’m calling “DBSOC: Derrick Broze’s Stream of Consciousness”. I’m working on re-connecting with my creative flow when writing, on using it as a tool to process what is present for me. So much of my work is thoroughly researched, refined & re-written, and not about what I’m feeling, what is my truth. DBSOC is going to be just that: what is present for me right here, right now. Hope you enjoy.)

I am taking a free online college course (via EDX, check them out!) called “Wiretaps to Big Data: Privacy and Surveillance in the Age of Interconnection” and it’s got me thinking not only of surveillance and privacy, but the bigger implications of what it takes to encourage people to change their lives for their own benefit. Let me explain..

So in the course (and throughout my journalism) I have learned about the extensive ways in which our lives are monitored, tracked, catalogued, studied, etc. Whether you are thinking in terms of internet traffic monitoring, local police and the feds using “Stingray” cell phone surveillance or planes equipped with cell phone spying tools (so called-DRT or Dirt boxes), Automatic License Plate Readers at every turn, surveillance drones, biometric measures like facial recognition and retina scanning, and on and on – the end result is always less privacy and thus less security for the people. (for more on these types of tools I recommend this informative site)

Some of these devices and modes of surveillance cannot be avoided – the drones, the ALPR’s, and the stingrays. However, much of the surveillance and tracking we deal with (via our phones and computers) can be avoided, or at the least we can protect ourselves to some degree. There are apps and software that can help encrypt one’s devices and practices that can be implemented to maintain some level of privacy. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people seem either uninterested in taking these steps or remain ignorant to the fact that they are giving away the last shreds of privacy remaining. We continue to use facebook, google, smart phones, etc knowing full well we are trading off privacy for convenience. Why?

Even when people are aware of these violations of privacy and the potential repercussions there seems to be a lack of action. And it’s not just with surveillance. As a Holistic Activist I attempt to look at all areas of my life to see the inconsistencies between my stated goals and my actual actions. From there I work to adjust my behavior to become more consistent and live more in line with my principles. This requires a lot of difficult work and introspection. It takes patience and practice. These are modes of being that often seem missing from the “average” person’s life.

For example, once a human being is made aware that by using plastic bags and plastic packaging they are contributing to the growing amount of plastic waste, they are supporting the petroleum industry (and its practices), and potentially contributing the destruction of the environment, they are faced with a choice – either continue the actions with full knowledge of the negative outcomes or make a change. Make a simple choice to stop using these products and stop supporting the industries and destruction involved.

We can see similar hypocrisy related to diet, surveillance, government, our jobs, and on and on. Any time there is a conflict between our stated goals and principles and the actual actions we take there is an opportunity to grow, to become more principled, and consistent. However, when we choose to continue taking an action that we know goes against what we believe and what we hope to achieve, we are only working against ourselves. The problem that I see is that the majority of the American population seems to compromise themselves on a regular basis. I do not believe in perfection and I know for a fact that every action we take contributes to some injustice somewhere (even using these computers and phones and the lithium ion batteries contributes to the destruction of indigenous lands elsewhere – again, for our convenience). I don’t expect everyone to stop living their lives, but I do hope for a time when we are able to look at our actions holistically and ask ourselves:

What am I willing to do to achieve the changes I want? Am I willing to change my life and actions?

Until we can answer those questions I fear people will not change their driving habits, their diets, their waste production, their support of government and corporations that do not serve the people, or their own unhealthy personal habits. I fear humanity will not see the need for change until it is too late. For now though, I take solace in knowing that I am personally doing all that I can to help the world and I work to encourage others to do the same. Thank you to everyone out there who starts their quest for a better world by looking in the mirror.