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Op-Ed: The Constitution of Power

December 10, 2011
Dear Reader,

The democratizing effects of the internet that, for some, has become a megaphone for individual calls to action, have fundamentally begun a shift of the basis of world power away from institutional control. The internet has transformed the helmet of state control (in more repressive regimes, with information having been controlled to a lesser extent by share-holders in the freer societies) of information into a sieve that has ultimately proven to be uncontainable by any singular or plural force.

In a more concrete sense, I refer to Turkey’s attempt to censor the internet for access to pornographic, terrorist, or sites that support the theory of Darwinian evolution. I refer to China’s severe and uncompromising censorship of the world wide web, which prompted Google’s retreat to Hong Kong. I refer to the Arab Spring, the reverberations of which continue to be felt by tyrannical powers to this day.

To each of these attempts to block access to information, news of the censorship spread and access to information ultimately flourished. This has led to public humiliation of authorities, the removal of censorship of the information channels (http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/12/controversial-turkish-internet-c.html), and regime change in the Middle East. I refer to Wikileaks and the awkward and vulnerable position in which it left the U.S. State Department. I refer to the efforts of Russian Blogger Aleksei Navalny (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/10/world/europe/the-saturday-profile-blogger-aleksei-navalny-rouses-russia.html) who has called Putin’s farce of a democratic election for what it is: a thinly veiled coup of the democratic process by “the Party of Swindlers and Thieves.”

Power, it seems, requires an evolved definition that accommodates the rising influence of the individual in affairs of state. Power might be best understood as the ability to influence others. This influence can be exerted over thought, emotion, or action. From this statement, one may infer that it is the human collective that holds sway over the essence of power.

The organization of collective human effort, directed toward a common goal, has historically manifest itself in the church, the army, the empire, the nation, the republic, the ideology, and the corporation. The information age, the ubiquitous presence of recording devices, internet access, and free, open domain/server space, has brought about the liberation of mass-communication from those institutional players that would control information, peddle editorial influence, and exert power by virtue of access to vast resources. The derivative of this reality is a world population of individuals. No longer MUST we allow our communications to mediated through larger, state players. State players certainly continue to define the immense majority of interactions among peoples, but the individual’s share of the pie is increasing; is extant! There is a new-found ability for an individual to openly communicate with billions of his fellows, less-encumbered than ever before from the traditional constraints poised by a need to raise start-up capital, develop distribution channels, or overcome geographic and linguistic barriers.

Our social contract, as once envisioned by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, is evolving to a new plane as authority is increasingly being derived from the direct, rather than implied/implicit, consent of the governed.  The dispensaries of information have grown beyond the direct control of those traditional brokers of power.

This new freedom afforded to the People brings with it the burden of a new responsibility. To become players in this world of diffused power, one must seek the sort of education that will permit him to think for himself so that he may sift through misinformation, propaganda, vitriol, dogma, advertising, and pundit banter.

The libraries and stages of the world have opened to you, dear Reader- take heed that yours is a nutritious diet, unworried by the indiscriminate consumption that is gluttony. Power is available for those who first wield it over their own thoughts.

The Baltimore Citizen

This was originally posted in Revealing Our Humanity.

Jordan Cooper

About Jordan Cooper

Jordan Cooper, president of Revealing Our Humanity Communications, has been consistently engaged in public service for the past 16 years and has spent eight of those years being actively engaged in Maryland politics. Jordan is the host of Public Interest Podcast. He has worked on Health IT and Health Information Exchange implementing Obamacare for the District of Columbia’s Department of Health Care Finance. He ran as a Democratic Candidate for Delegate in the 2014 election cycle. He served as the President of the Luxmanor Citizens Association (2013-2014) and as the Chair of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission Customer Advisory Board. He currently serves on the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board, the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee, and the Rockville Selective Service Board. He is an Area Coordinator in District 16 for the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and is a member of the District 16 Democratic Board. Jordan has a master's degree in health policy from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a bachelor's degree in political science from Vassar College. Jordan was born and raised in Bethesda, Maryland.

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