The Internet as we know it today started as a small Department of
Defense project as early as 1969. Back then, the Pentagon was looking
for an alternate way of communicating, beyond the telephone system,
during wartime threats. The best plan was to communicate across a “web”
of networked computers — a program that was to be run by the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Created just after the
Soviets launched Sputnik in 1959 and long heralded as the whiz-bang arm
of the Pentagon, DARPA quickly stepped into action and perfected the
ARPANET, as it was first called, by 1983.
Just think, American ingenuity has done what hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, thousands of soldiers’ lives and all the might of the U.S. military war machine could not — spread democracy like a prairie fire.
Maybe that’s the lesson we as Americans can take from the volatile yet history-setting events unfolding half a world away. The desire for self-rule and independence is insatiable. No matter how big a stick we may carry, sometimes even the softest of words can wield the greatest influence.
Thought can in fact produce action, and spark a sense of community and solidarity, even when those passions are less than 140 characters. Didn’t we as a young people recognize this truism some 250 years ago? Only then, our rallying cries came in the form of Federalist Papers and words such as “Don’t tread on me.”
We are embarking on a new Age of Freedom. The world’s youth know this. To them, freedom rests in the palm of their hands. We as a beacon of that hope and representative government would serve ourselves well to keep looking for ways to share technology with them.