Google's defiant stance towards the great firewall of China should lead us to count our blessings, and so should the frightening news coming from Haiti in the aftermath of the 7.0 earthquake that has devastated that nation. I am also reminded that we should always aim to be a force for good in a world that can often seem full of evil and suffering.
President Barack Obama recently said in a different context, "... for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice." As is often the case, the United States will do more than its share to help the people of Haiti through this difficult time. At times like these, I am humbled by the generosity of my neighbors and fellow citizens, and I am reminded that we are blessed to live our lives in security so great that we are shocked to find terrorists in our midst or that we are not immune to natural disaster. We are so wealthy that we can freely and safely debate the nuances of a health-care plan. The Haitians had no such privileges, even before the earthquake.
The whole discussion seems so far removed from the virtual worlds that data centers support, its esoteric language and concepts, and ethereal theories.
Yet Google's decision to challenge China reminds me that our blessings extend beyond security and wealth; we are fortunate to have inherited a system that protects our freedom of expression, even if imperfectly at times. It is our duty to defend this system and to be the shining city on the hill that President Ronald Reagan called to mind.
Whatever one thinks of Google's initial decision to enter the Chinese market, it now stands side by side on the side of freedom of with the lone dissenter in Tianamen Square. China is like Haitians in that its citizens also cannot freely debate political developments at home.
China's citizens are not the only victims of their government's repressive policies. Google has charged that the cyberattackers also targeted other sensitive websites, threatening them and everyone else along with them. These types of cyberattacks are on the rise, I am told.
I am confident that Google's decision to act is a good one for humanity, although it is hard to say how the company will be affected in the short term. "In a battle between force and an idea, the latter always prevails," said Ludwig von Mises.
He is joined by Mohandas K. Gandhi, who said, "When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS." It is more than coincidence, I think, that President Obama quoted Gandhi in his Nobel acceptance speech.
In that same speech, the President went on to say, "Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms."
Let us hope and pray for peace and prosperity and remember to be grateful to those who work to bring about these conditions for all. And may the United States be true to its history in both the Haiti and Google situations.