“No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher.” Isaiah 30: 23
“At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity” Mt. 9: 36
I. In Prayer
Today’s readings remind us of the value of transparency. We long for clarity, simplicity, precision and intelligibility in our world. Advent especially invites us to value transparency and to have hope in the coming of Christ, when all mystery will become clear. The Church asks us to give thanks for the transparency of God; to do so, I only have to look around at my Kairos community because as Christians, I’m proud that we take our standards into the world to announce love. In action we move to denounce the evil and to clear the threshing floor of all the fallen chaff.
Tilth (n.) The degree of fineness of soil particles in the topmost soil layer.
“Rake the surface to create a fine tilth” Regina says, reading from Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. “Why?” I ask, butting into the conversation. “For it to be able to breath for the water to go down, for seeds to be able to germinate.”
III. In Works
Meet Ryan Gallagher, here, a young Scot writing to heaven come about the best thing to hit the internet: Wikileaks. Inboxes around the globe are stuffed full of crappy second and third hand political commentary, but not this week.
On Wednesday, Wikileaks let loose 251,287 documents from US embassies—but if you’ve had inclinations to make time—let me tell you Cinderella, times up. Already two attempts failed to close Wikileaks, but now Amazon and Paypal have dropped it—even US military would prevent troops from access. [At this writing my computer can’t find the server at wikileaks.org.] McCarthyism anyone?
Gallagher: “And an idea is precisely what Wikileaks has become. It is no longer simply a website – it is a pure expression of democratic ideals, a philosophy realised [sic] by the force of technology. The powerful may condemn and attempt to repress Wikileaks and all it represents, but the situation has long since spun far from their control. Facilitated by the internet, a new battleground has been established.”
I’m touched that he quotes one of the heroes subsumed by the iconic Dr. King. “You can kill a man but you can't kill an idea,’ as the civil rights activist Medgar Evers once said.” The irony here of course is that Mr. Evers died in a terrorist bombing.
The Ides of March
Is it treason to release the government documents? Now seriously, have we forgotten our context? The better question is whether the Obama Administration has met its promise to bring transparency to Government (see memo). Contrary to the impression given by the President, Andrew Malcolm reported in the LA Times: “An Associated Press examination of 17 major agencies' handling of FOIA requests found denials 466,872 times, an increase of nearly 50% from the 2008 fiscal year under Bush.”
One could argue that the failure to process FOIA requests is due to stalling by federal agencies. Malcolm showed this could be the case: “a study out March 15  by George Washington University's National Security Archive finds less than one-third of the 90 federal agencies that process such FOIA requests have made significant changes in their procedures since Obama's 2009 memo.”
In case we needed a wake up this Advent, Gallagher was right to portray the attempt to suppress Wikileaks as a civil rights issue. At our disposal, the internet allows us to better perceive the stakes, interests and decision-making process at work in Government. Unfortunately, Wikileaks exists for a reason, to disclose; it must reveal what has been hidden in secret.
While we give thanks for Wikileaks, I won’t accept it as good enough. We deserve better than disclosure; the Church teaches us to know what we deserve. We want transparency!
Malcolm, Andrew. “A little secret about Obama's transparency” 21 March 2010. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/21/nation/la-na-ticket21-2010mar21