Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesday's Words for March 7, 2012

I used to watch a lot of news programs. In years passed, I never missed Peter Jennings, after which I would flip my dial over to catch the BBC World Report, and then the CBC Evening News. Every night my beloved would watch Chris Matthews, followed by Keith Olbermann, and I’d be right there with him. We’d watch some Fox News programs, as well, because we like to hear both sides of an issue. We’d also catch a couple of really good debate shows on PBS on the weekend. Sunday was Tim Russert, and then George Stephanopoulos, and whoever CNN had on, too.

Then, for reasons I don’t entirely understand—not long after the 2008 American Presidential election, in fact—I lost my news habit.

Well, I’ve picked it up a little bit in the last month but I’m beginning to believe I was better off without it. I’m all for being well informed. Since I spend a great deal of my day in front of my keyboard, and I do tend to drift onto the Internet several times a day any way, I am generally aware of what’s going on in the wider world around me.

It’s essential to know if there is about to be a coffee shortage, for example, so I can run out and stock up on it.

However, I’ve discovered that tuning in too closely to the news, current affairs, and political consciousness is not good for my blood pressure.

Will someone please tell me how it is that public figures can get away with wholesale lying?

There is one fact with regard to the latest brouhaha that a participant in that firestorm of words got horribly wrong and no one—no one at all—said anything about the wrong fact.

Therefore, I have a request that I will make, and, men, I’m apologizing in advance if this is something you already knew: Will someone please tell the men among us that birth control pills are unlike Viagra in two very important ways: 1) they are used not only for contraception but also for treatment of irregular or absent menstrual periods, menstrual cramps, acne, PMS, and for serious medical conditions such as endometriosis, and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and 2) they are not a pay as you play kind of drug. In order to be effective as contraception, birth control pills must be taken every day, even if the woman taking them is not currently having sex.

Here I sat over the last week, watching the coverage of that brouhaha, with all the talking heads giving their left-leaning and right-leaning interpretations of what was said by whom to whom about whom, the pros and the cons, and not one of them said, ‘well, from a factual standpoint, of course, what was said is just not true.’

It got my blood pressure rising, and it got me thinking.

There are a lot of people who like to have their say, and who don’t care if what they have to say has any relation to the truth, or not. Further, these people—in all areas of life, not just politics and news programs but blogs and chat rooms, and anywhere that people can imagine themselves to be in the spotlight—cue the off-stage deep voice announcing, “and now, the star of our show...”—these people believe that if they shout the loudest, and the longest, even if all they are shouting are lies, then they automatically win and they are automatically, therefore, right.

Hello? Truth is truth when it comes to verifiable facts and data. To say someone said something when they did not, and you know that they did not, is a lie. To say a thing is a widget when you know that it is not, is a lie.

Lying is, to put it another way, bearing false witness against thy neighbor.

So, if all this lying is going on, and everyone is okay with it, how do we as a society uphold the laws of the land? Because now, by extrapolation, it’s ok to lie on your tax forms, and job applications, and police reports and hey, we need to really get rid of those “misrepresentation of the truth will result in a $20,000 fine” fine-print paragraphs that are on everything we sign and date. Oh, and we need to abolish the crime of perjury, too.

More importantly to me, on what moral ground do we stand in raising our children and getting angry when they lie to us? “Do as I say, not as I do”? Seriously, I thought we’d evolved beyond that one.

Also seriously, I’m going back to imitating an ostrich. It’ll be easier on my heart. And so what if I’m not all that well informed? I have faith that if things get really bad out there, someone will give me a call and tell me about it.

 Love, Morgan

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