[prahy-vuh-see; Brit. also priv-uh-see]
–noun, plural -cies.
1. the state of being private; retirement or seclusion.
2. the state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one’s private life or affairs: the right to privacy.
4. Archaic . a private place.
Simple concept really. But the implications are far reaching.
Look at the court cases about FBI placing wires on cars without a warrant on the premise that “travel on public roads” should not contain an expectation of privacy. (Side question – does that GPS bug disappear everytime anyone drives a car onto private property? IMHO, I think citizens have the right to privacy and the assumption they are not being spied upon without due process being observed.)
Or – all the attention that the papparazzi places on entertainers, the wealthy and badly behaved, sports figures. Anything and everything they do is fodder for people with too much time on their hands and purient interest in the affairs of others.
Now, let us look at deployments. Privacy becomes a luxury for the average troop. Note, I am saying troop, but I mean soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors (excepting sub-mariners). The last time most adults shared sleeping space with someone who is neither their spouse or partner is probably at home (siblings) or school (roommates).
The particular definition of concern is the second – being free from intrusion or disturbance in one’s private life or affairs. Privacy is not an inherent right in the military.
Now here we are on a post with thousands of others. Sleeping space is at a premiium. Sleeping space = personal space = where you keep your stuff. Sleeping space, for most, does not even carry an expectation of privacy. To have one’s own space – even size of a cell with barely enough room to turn around – is a priveldge. To not have to worry about someone else in your gear, your things getting, even accidently over the line into another person’s personal space, to be able to shut out the world for a few minutes/hours a day and rejuvinate is a priceless treasure.
One of our MSG came in this morning almost dancing. In his forties, he is married with five children. Peace and quiet at home, he reports has never been reality. Now that the oldest two are in professional school, a daughter at the Air Force Academy and a son at West Point, home is a bit less crowded. None of that was important today. He had just given up a room (shared room) in the hardstand barracks complete with hard wired internet and showers down the hall and was joyous. He is now the proud occupant of a B-Hut cell. All his own, no sharing.
It is worth it, he says. Worth being farther from work and the DFAC. Even worth having to walk outside in the coming cold to the latrines and showers. Doors and walls to keep out everyone else for a bit of time every day. Not having to share a bedroom/sleeping space no matter how good a colleague.
Because of rank, I rarely have to face this issue. It is an artifical societal rule of the military. Rank hath priviledge. Even so, I am more than grateful every evening when can close my door and shut out the rest of the world.