The Wall Street Journal headline today reads “U.S. Struggles for Response to Sony Hack” and talks about how advisers from President Barack Obama ’s intelligence, military and diplomatic teams were having daily meetings about the situation, Meanwhile, Americans everywhere were quick to denounce Sony’s decision to cancel distribution of the movie this week. Some of the public discussion in news media might even be characterized as “sabre rattling”.
For me, personally, the issue is clear and I face no such struggle to guide my own behavior. I resolved at an early age (17 or 18) that I would simply not live my life in fear of risk or business liability. I personally observed how fear of liability killed common sense in and altered normal human behavior in my own business community and I wanted none of it.
I try to live as though there is no such thing as privacy in today’s world and that every action, every statement and certainly every email, is subject to public scrutiny. I often rely on the internal question “How would I feel if mom saw this?” (Mom is long deceased so this is purely a mental exercise) when making decisions about my communications. I recognize that this simple-minded approach to life means that I might be a lousy entertainment industry executive or politician. It doesn’t mean that I’m proud of my every communication I make but rather that I’m ready and prepared for the consequences if they were made public.
If I were a movie-goer (it happens that I am not) I simply would not allow the fear of an outside threat affect my decision with this move. It is plain and simple and involves no degree of internal struggle or fear. In parts of the world were threats are real and persistent – like bombs going off in coffee shops – I recognize that I might be dead already. This doesn’t enter into the decision. It still makes no sense to base my behavior on fear or risk of liability.
In this world of complex issues and even with my moderate, analytical and “centered” political value stances that there is at least one issue that is so clear and simple that it requires no further debate. I only wish our leaders possessed such clarity on this key value.