Here in the northwest, there proliferates a climbing plant known to many people far and wide as Morning Glory.  Though there are different kinds of Morning Glory, they have in common creeping vines, and flowers that bloom at night, or through the early morning.The flowers can be quite lovely, and because they climb so nicely, are often used to cover patio trellises and fencing. The same vines that creep up, also creep out in a vast ground cover.

Unfortunately, all that flowers does not a happy gardener make. Morning Glory is highly invasive with a complicated root system that makes it very difficult to get rid of. “Very,” as in, I am pretty sure the cockroaches will be vacationing in it post nuclear fallout.

Every broken piece of Morning Glory will root and form it’s own plant. It can’t be composted, but rather must be thrown away or burned. The rototiller and the hoe are only helping it to achieve world domination. Weedkiller will take care of it temporarily, but do you want to spray weedkiller in your vegetable garden? The only real way to take it on is to dig up the root system everywhere you can, cover up your garden with black plastic all year (instead of growing anything) in order to burn it out with the sun, and/or just be prepared to be pulling it up constantly… for the rest of your life.

Sitting in my garden, pulling up Morning Glory, I was pondering the recent revelations in regard to the ever growing surveillance state. A local news station posed the question over Facebook of whether or not members of our community felt that Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, deserved to be tried for treason. Some of the answers disturbed me, and the split was much more even than I would have hoped.

You see, quite many people still see the intelligence community as more interested in our freedom and protection than anything else. It hasn’t occurred to them that it’s power could be (and is being) abused. If it has occurred to them, they have quickly discarded it and gone back to life as usual. I think there are many reasons for this, and I am even willing to say that some of those reasons stem from a habit of looking on the bright side. Obviously there are many more negative reasons as well, but for the moment I am giving people the benefit of the doubt. They want to believe that our government has our best interests at heart. They are good people, their friends and family are good people, certainly the men and women working in our government are at heart, good people. But is this outlook naive? At best.

It is easy for our government to say the right things – we know they always do at election time. Elected and appointed officials show us their best smiles, and assure us continually that there is nothing to worry about, and that they are just trying to catch the bad guys. Leaders have always done this from time immemorial. Unfortunately, the evidence says that there is more to the story.

This week’s press has been big news, but most of it isn’t really new news. More people might be paying attention, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been going on for awhile. The insidious weed was there, you just hadn’t noticed it in your vegetable patch.

I mentioned my fight against the nefarious Morning Glory on Facebook earlier today, and a friend made the comment I was just waiting for; “but it’s so pretty.” My response? “Pretty is as pretty does.” And that conversation is what really brought this entry into being, because what is it that people say about the NSA collecting records; but it’s for our protection. And, they’re not going to do anything bad with it.

Let’s say your neighbor decides to plant some Morning Glory to climb a trellis, covering the unsightly fence separating your properties. They enjoy the lovely flowers – because that is what they see; a lovely flower. Fast forward to next year. Has the neighbor bothered to contain their lovely flowers? No, why should they? Why would anybody complain about such a lovely, creeping flower? What kind of a jerk are you? Besides, they probably don’t know that the Morning Glory is doing a lot of work behind the scenes (or under the ground, as it were). So now, those creepers have creeped onto your side of the fence, because oh, they will. In fact, they didn’t even need to climb the fence, because they just spread their rooty tentacles through the dirt and right into your yard. You probably haven’t even noticed that they are there, and perhaps when you do, not knowing exactly what it is that you are seeing, you will even remark; “Oh, check out those pretty flowers by the fence.” Sadly, that sentiment is not going to last. Because eventually, those creeping flowers are going to be choking the life out of every other plant inhabiting that patch of dirt. And the further and further that root system spreads, the more seemingly impossible it is going to become to take the ground back from it.

Thus with government surveillance. It starts out nice and contained in it’s little area, for it’s specific purpose – but before you know it, someone has looked away and the roots have spread. In fact, it has been in your yard for some time now, but you either didn’t notice, didn’t know what it was, or didn’t care.  It can’t be left to creep.

What your neighbor sees as a pretty flower, and maybe a safe and convenient ground cover, is in reality an invasive weed.

When the government told you; we’re just collecting this information for your protection, you should have been asking yourself – what’s next, and how did we get here? And you should have realized that when it has gotten to the point that your government feels it is okay to violate it’s own rule of law, in order to collect information – gathered by illegal wiretapping and unwarranted spying – the weed has already taken over. The time for drastic measures is upon you. You can’t just pull it out at the property line anymore. It’s time to commit to digging up the root system.

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