Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 1, 2014

Big Santa is watching you

By Linda Wenger | Dec 22, 2011

The lyrics of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in this day and age comes with a new understanding of what it means to be seen “when you’re sleeping” and “when you’re awake.” Santa’s companion, “The Elf on the Shelf,” also has kids under surveillance 24-7. I haven’t read “The Elf on the Shelf,” but my granddaughters have and so they know at least two entities are watching them be naughty or nice.

A few weeks ago, several family members philosophized about “The Elf on the Shelf” and wondered if it was too heavy-handed for 5-year-old Lucy and 2 ½ -year-old Carly. We had a little facebook session about Santa and the Elf and pondered them. Were they too much like “Big Brother is watching you” from the novel “1984”?

Many of us are under surveillance, maybe not 24/7, but often enough if we look around. My first experience came a couple of weeks ago when I attended a public hearing at the sheriff’s office. A deputy told me we were being watched by cameras. While I understand the need for security, it rankles me, too. I’m a law-abiding citizen and my every movement and word were being monitored in another room.

I can’t decide whether speed-trap cameras should be in use. What happens to “you’re innocent until proven guilty” and “you have the right to question your accuser”? How secure are security measures? How do I know my face or license plate number won’t end up in the wrong hands?

Philosophizing may be OK to a point, but there comes a time when philosophy runs up against reality.

My daughter found that out one morning while she was getting ready for work. She was in one bathroom and the girls were in another — playing with fingernail polish. While they probably had fun and felt free to play with fingernail polish, they made a fine mess.

At that moment, my daughter threw theory out the window and drew the cold draught of reality — she told Lucy and Carly that Santa and the Elf are watching them — that they better watch out because Santa knows when they’ve been bad or good. Hopefully they will be good for goodness’ sake.

While it may be liberating to open a bottle of fingernail polish and paint one another, the consequences may be hard to live with.

So Big Santa is watching you!

Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Feb 19, 2012 03:26

It may seem odd, as Congress crashes into our most personal and intimate decisions, and bureaucrats regulate our right to breathe, what food is served at the school cafeteria and Federal panels decide who lives and who dies, that I comment about trivial issues like the FDA banning trans fat or candy cigarettes. But it’s the small invasions that psychologically prepare the nation for the larger invasions. Since a “reasonable” person wouldn’t smoke or drink such-and-such a beverage, only an “unreasonable” person could object to these controls. Thus the framework is established of reducing Americans to a child-like state of dependence and obedience. We learn to acquiesce to the small “reasonable” invasions, and we gradually lose the notion that adults must think for themselves. The solution to our ineptness becomes more controls, more “help”. This is ostensibly for our own good, of course. But at the end of the day, we’re no longer functioning grown-ups.
We’re told that government does the job better. There are reasonable arguments why the new way is “better”, but be aware of the reduced status of the other institutions that brought us to this point. It’s inherent to the process that government batter down its competition: The family, religions, private charities, businesses; everything that built the nation and refuses to become just another organ of the government. The government gets bigger; everything else (including you and me) get smaller. This is the future we are building.



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