Increasingly, I feel like a passenger on a plane watching a pilot
flirting with a flight attendant during a thunderstorm. My surgeon seems
more concerned about her tee time on the golf course. Half of the
drivers around me incessantly talk on their cell phones.
I feel this incredible impatience with all the critical problems we
face that will require serious attention and, simultaneously, this fear
that we are fundamentally distracted. That distraction has already
produced catastrophic consequences.
We have corrupt institutions that have also lost focus. They lack
their independence, just at a time when that independence is most
critically needed, to guide themselves and serve the public effectively.
Outrageously, these corruptions have been primed by the most privileged
in our society. Who is to blame in this? Who is responsible?
We, the most privileged in this society who could fix these systemic problems, have recoiled in passivity for years.
Now we must move from distraction to responsibility.
Lawrence Lessig, J.D. is the Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics and a Professor at Harvard Law School. A strong proponent of the free culture movement, he is well known for his work in reducing legal restrictions on copyright, trademark, and radio frequency spectrum, particularly in technology applications.