In the debate about Asylum Seekers and Refugees, it seems the concept and practice of transparency has become another tradeable commodity in our consumer marketplace. It is not seen as important while it is practiced as we take it for granted as a right. However, we apparently still view it as priceless, in theory.
Or, I wonder, is it rather that the increased value of transparency comes into existence only when you don’t have control over it and someone else does and you feel powerless to change it.
Being transparent is a virtue, but I think it is now assessed on a case-by-case basis, within specific contexts, and is very transactional. It does not hold a value beyond the current circumstances, whatever those may be. It is very much seen as an accoutrement of power, one of the indicators that I am more powerful than you if I can control what you see and hear, particularly when it comes to issues of public commentary.
To be honest, I don’t think this is any different to how it has always been; politicians and governments have always tried to control information and its presentation into the public domain. What has changed in our response is the use of social media and the internet to prevent issues of civil society, justice and equity being limited.
So I’m concerned about the diminution of justice for vulnerable people who have no recourse to being heard or gaining access to the system because they’ve been shut down.
My concern is that our willingness to believe what we are told, when we are told it, without questioning the motives or sources and understanding the biases means we are far more open to manipulation and unhelpful influences in making our own judgements. We fear what contradicts our worldviews; we affirm that which validates our opinions; we are blind in our acceptance and maintain our narrow-eyed prejudices to our greater cost.
Our governments and institutions do need to be held to account. It is not right to have an unjust system and then seek to limit debate on that system.
Rev’d Dr Lucy Morris, CEO