Privacy barely exists. Technology made the world smaller, subsequently bringing us closer together.
We have Twitter, Instagram, Medium, countless forums and other avenues which allow users the privilege of starting conversations with people from across the world.
The Internet is defined by a candid dispersion of intimate desires and fears. On Youtube, you have couples posting the daily lives in their relationship, taking the reality television template to the next level.
We are a sharing generation, but we still don’t get along perfectly. I think the remaining discord comes from the fact that we don’t know everything about each other.
We have so many secrets…
The Bible’s book of Genesis and Sir Thomas More’s Utopia are relevant when we discuss the subject of privacy. In both, the forcing of transparency onto the governed reveal how important privacy really is.
Why don’t spiritual gurus post a video about the numerological significance of their social security numbers on Youtube?
How come we don’t leave our front doors unlocked at night?
In other words, there is no room for secrets, but we do value privacy in some ways. We want our privacy if we can control the context of sharing.
A fully transparent environment strips the governed of their individuality, merging secrecy with disobedience and disfunction.
When I use the word transparency, I’m speaking to sight and the act of seeing. Transparency also embodies a tone akin to honesty and forthrightness, the removal of all secrets, hidden operations, and agendas which is also useful.
On that note, everybody has heard the story of Adam and Eve.
In the Garden of Eden, the nudity of Adam and Eve represent the transparency required in the inhabited biblical utopian space.
It is the open, unadulterated or unhidden display of one’s self which the governed are required to adhere to and are not judged for.
“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).
The lack of shame in their nakedness encompasses the idea of transparency.
The only humans that reside in the Garden of Eden are Adam and Eve. If in this perfect space, displaying their god given shape is the norm, then there should be no shame.
We would all try to be fine with being naked if there were rules against being clothed.
Nudity in Genesis and the lack of shame in it contains the dual existence of obedience through transparency.
Adam and Eve are seen for everything that they are, literally and figuratively.
The book of Genesis combines both definitions of transparency; sight and honesty to form its human story.
Interestingly enough, transparency is still used as a means of control.
Eventually, eliminating the perpetuation of their nudity in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve encroach upon disobedience, as the act of them hiding their bodies displays their transgressions.
“And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10).
Adam hides himself from who created him.
Upon eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge, Adam reveals to the creator that he hid himself because he realized nakedness.
Adam and Eve sought to no longer be transparent once they gained knowledge.
The transparency ends when two things occur: the creator had been disobeyed and access to the bodies of the governed ceased.
As seen in the book of Genesis, control and transparency go hand in hand, appearing in the form of Adam and Eve’s nudity.
Published in 1516, Sir Thomas More’s book Utopia, however, places transparency as a political practice, dwelling as both privacy and the lack-thereof.
Where Utopia perpetuates transparent practices involves societal power structures.
What is hidden from sight in Utopia, verifies what transparency represents in the text.
In the book, pieces of the political process are done in the shadows: “…then by secret ballot they elect the governor” (More 550).
Here, secret proceedings are mentioned as part of governmental formation. The use of secrets and the lack of transparency begin to show themselves when it comes to decisions of establishing government.
Secrecy deals with the formation and maintaining of power, while in the Garden of Eden, there is no safeguard against tyranny.
The Creator maintained secrets in relation to the true nature of the fruit from Adam and Eve.
Its like he did it to maintain balance in Eden (Genesis 3:6). They were supposed to obey his rule, without any questions.
A lack of obedience equaled their removal. Adam and Eve were told that they would die if they ate some of the fruit from the tree of Good and Evil, yet they ate and did not die.
God wasn’t transparent with them.
In the bible, it’s evident that deceit and a lack of transparency on the behalf of the entity in control is allowed.
Sir Thomas More’s version of transparency in his utopia embodies the relationship between control and power.
As mentioned, secrets begin in governance with the ballot, however, the officials are tasked with dealing with matters regarding governance in the open, without the secrecy which even the governor was elected.
“It is a capitol offense to make public business outside of the senate or popular assembly” (More 550).
There is no secrecy imposed onto the workings of governance. The workings of control and power in More’s Utopia show the importance of transparency.
The rules of transparency in relation to how the city should be run are stated to be helpful to protect the citizens from being enslaved.
“The purpose of these rules, they say, is to prevent the governor and the tranibors from conspiring together to alter the government and enslave the people” (More 550).
Transparency protects the people from tyranny in Utopia. The rules exist with the express purpose of protection in mind.
Both texts harbor transparency as an integral piece in controlling the governed and the managing the power. The book of Genesis and Sir Thomas More’s Utopia are in discussion with each other as to the role privacy plays in a perfect society.
Privacy protects from power structures who seek to oppress.
Maybe we’ll never get to a point where we are comfortable sharing everything about ourselves with government and our neighbors… or maybe we’re already there.