The graphic shows the rough 2014 budget proportions for the Department of Homeland Security. The $45 billion figure for the DHS budget is based on an analysis by the Congressional Research Service.
Late last week I was showing this pie chart to some graduate students who are exploring homeland security. They are on the edge of completing their law degrees, PhDs, or graduate studies in other fields. But they are interested enough in homeland security to have competed for and been selected for a Graduate Fellowship program at Rutgers University.
I asked, “What do you see?”
“It’s mostly about the border,” said one.
“Excluding the other,” said another
“Fear of the other.”
“Fear of each other.”
A young lawyer suggested this was a narrative theme — an analytical predisposition — that frames how we experience and make sense of reality. He and most of his peers agreed there was some evidence to support the narrative. But we allow it to shape our orientation well beyond the evidence.
This is not where I was planning to take the discussion. I was better prepared for a wonky consideration of incremental budgeting, legacy missions, Congressional oversight, etc., etc…
But I did not try to redirect. We went with “otherness” as a homeland security problem. Look again, you will see what they saw. Even if you can see other things and offer other explanations, I suggest their fresh eyes are not inaccurate.
It’s an interesting angle on reality, especially coincident with enhanced security being announced — despite the lack of specific threat intelligence.
Toward the end of Jean-Paul Satre’s play “No Exit”, a character proclaims, “So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the “burning marl.” Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE! (“L’enfer, c’est les Autres.”)
Most of us have experienced this unhappy truth. But many of us have also experienced, “without a you and an I, there is no love, and with mine and yours there is no love but “mine” and “yours”… This is indeed the case everywhere, but not in love, which is a revolution from the ground up. The more profound the revolution, the more complete the distinction…” (Søren Kierkegaard). Without the other we are profoundly diminished.
Two antithetical intuitions equally true, depending on our attitude and the situation. A wicked problem? If so, extending well beyond homeland security.
How can we reason together through this paradox? Without the skill, discipline, and ethic of social reasoning we must defer to the mercy of randomness. I have often found randomness quite generous. But I aspire to — and have experienced — much more. I know something about social reasoning in small groups. Elinor Ostrom and others have told me interesting things about social reasoning in larger groups. Is facilitation of social reasoning an appropriate tool of homeland security?