Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday's Words for March 2, 2011

Just because things were a certain way back in the day, doesn’t necessarily make them outdated today.

“Don’t believe everything you read,” was a maxim I grew up with. I was schooled to not automatically accept something just because it was in print. I was encouraged to think for myself. To examine and explore, to determine the relevance of any bit of news or information I came across.

I seriously doubt “they” are teaching that in the schools any more. I especially wonder if they are teaching children how to think, period.

As my education progressed, I was taught that often, the written word—that is, the written word in the world of non-fiction, and historical recording—often times was a tool to be used. Propaganda, if you will. “What is the author’s frame of reference?” That question needed to be answered before it could be determined how close to being true a document was.

They don’t call it frame of reference or bias, anymore, or propaganda, or even lies. They call it spin. And somehow this word, ‘spin’ has transformed the same product into something shiny and hip and acceptable. Somehow, it has come to pass that if you repeat it loud enough and long enough then it becomes the truth.

Am I the only one who read 1984?

Why don’t we return to some of our previous codes of conduct?

Do you know what I’d like to see? I’d like to see an interview conducted with a celebrity hopped up on something, where said celebrity makes outrageous statements, and the interviewer says, “okay, let’s stop this. You’re obviously sick, everyone is laughing at you. Get yourself to a psychiatrist, dude. We’re done here.”

I’d like to see an interview with a despot who proclaims that all is well is his country, that his citizens are not being slaughtered as they protest, that they’re not even protesting because they all love him, and have the interviewer say, “you’re a criminal in the eyes of the world, and a liar, whom no one believes, and we’re not even going to give you air time.”

Yes, I’m naïve. I know I am. I expect people to do what’s right, and not what’s most beneficial to themselves. I expect honesty, and that, sadly, seems to be a dying character trait.

People lie and cheat in small ways every day and think nothing of it. Do they do this because all around them, and in the news media, and on line, and in government, and even in our religions, everyone seems to be doing it and not only getting away with it, but flourishing because of it?


When we paint lies with a patina of respectability, when we use those lies to sell our tenets, to advance our interests, we are telling the world it’s ok to play fast and loose with the truth. What is true anymore, anyway?

Here following, in my opinion, is the real damage and the real danger of this.

Manipulators knowingly tell lies to advance their cause, without fully understanding that those lies are taken by many people as being absolute truth; down the road, it may be necessary for those same manipulators to change course, and avow the exact opposite, to send a message that must be heeded by those same people to avert disaster, only no one is going to believe them, because those people have already been told “the truth”.

We’ve forgotten the teachings of the past, and the phrase, ‘moral responsibility’ these days is nothing more than a sound bite.


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