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What is important to you as an individual?  Each person will have a different answer.  True, many might answer the same but the driving force behind that choice will often be very personal. I live in a very rural setting in the central United States.  My desires and the important things to me are far different from someone in New York City, or London, or Hong Kong.  And yet there are many things on which we can find common ground.

For instance, two people might respond that illegal immigration is a top priority.  One might have been a legal immigrant who is upset they went through the procedure while others hopped the fence.  The other might have had a loved one killed or injured by an illegal who had been deported multiple times yet was allowed to remain due to sanctuary policies.  We reach similar answers from very different motivations.

We, as a people, regardless of what country we call home, are frequently guided to the “outrage of the day”.  We are also told not only what to be outraged about, we are told why- and most interestingly of all, most people are readily susceptible to this method of control.  Why?

The simple answer is ignorance.  Please understand, I’m not saying people are stupid, ignorance is simply the state of being uneducated and uninformed.  In most cases this is intentional.  Not willful ignorance although that is also a factor, but a result of being trained as such.  As education has become more and more centralized, governments have the power of the purse to dictate what is taught.  In an effort to keep the funds coming, schools must comply.  The only way to measure the compliance is through testing so many if not most schools rely on teachers to prepare the kids for the tests and in so doing teach to an end result rather than teaching the kids how to learn.

This method also has teachers teaching to the lowest common denominator so they get the percentage of compliance needed.  This is not to say there are not some excellent teachers out there who are going above and beyond to motivate and teach kids, not what to think, but how to learn.  However our society, in general, has become self-absorbed to care only about what we want or like and if we are challenged in our beliefs rather than defend ourselves with facts and truth, we need a safe place with coloring books and Pay-Doh if our feelings are hurt.  There are many instances of events disrupted or canceled when an invited speaker might challenge some student’s personal beliefs such as happened at Berkeley last fall.

Historically, we once believed it to be a good thing when we were forced to hear things with which we might disagree.  Debate is good and because something is widely held does not make it correct or the proper position.  Nazism was once widely held as the proper belief, yet a few dared to speak out to challenge that status quo.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer comes to mind with his famous quote about remaining silent in the face of evil.  Another is August Landmesser.  It is likely you have seen the famous photo of a large crowd offering the Nazi salute, while one man stands with his arms folded in defiance.  August was that man.

August joined the Nazi party in 1931 and began to work his way up.  However, he met a young Jewish woman in 1933 and fell in love.  He proposed to her in 1935 but was denied permission to marry her.  They had their first child that fall.  The picture was taken at a rally where Adolf Hitler himself was present making Landmesser’s stand all the more important and dangerous.  In the end, his pregnant wife was taken to a death camp where she gave birth before being murdered.  August himself was impressed into the German Army where he was declared missing in action.

August-Landmesser-Almanya-1936

The point here of course is, do you think for yourself?  Do you use facts, logic, and reason to develop your beliefs or do you follow the crowd?  Do you fear to have your beliefs and ideas challenged or are you comfortable in a discussion?  Would you stand as August did for what is right?

The United States is unique in the sense that it’s Constitution is based on self-evident truths: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  This statement from the Declaration of Independence is a cornerstone of the constitution, and it is the supreme law that protects the minority.  Unfortunately, it is our own ignorance, willful or otherwise, that makes us susceptible to those who would oppress us.

The Rule of Law matters, yet we have been conditioned to ignore the law in lieu of feelings.  I recently wrote an article about the origins and uses of propaganda, you can read it here.  Our ignorance makes us a prime candidate for propaganda, but it is no longer governments alone that use this insidious tactic.

When our founders added the Bill of Rights to our Constitution, they were addressing concerns raised by the Anti-Federalists.  They placed five rights in the First Amendment in which they prefaced, “Congress shall make no law…” and then enumerated religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition as being rights which should never be altered.  A free press historically was much like a ravenous wolf seeking out information with which to feed its voracious appetite.  The press was to be a referee of sorts, calling out “fouls” committed by politicians, businesses, and other “bad actors”.  I find it ironic that while many in the media will tout the “Freedom of the Press” mentioned in the First Amendment, they seem incapable of understanding the Second Amendment and the words, “Shall not be infringed”.

Instead, the press has become more of a cheerleader and instigator.  Investigative reporting is a thing of the past, replaced with a plethora of Parrots or Minah birds repeating what others are saying, nearly verbatim.  If a story is wrong, inaccurate or misleading, it is literally everywhere.  And if called on it a retraction, if any, is as well hidden as the Holy Grail.  The “Guardian of the Republic” is no more.

Unfortunately, we have come to expect this more or less in much of the world.

For example, in the US today whether you watch on TV, online or read the papers you might think this rifle called an AR-15 was the most destructive weapon of war available to man.  They will suggest “If just one life can be saved”, and then ignore all the other ways in which far more people are killed and injured.  What of the deficit spending that is burying our children and grandchildren in debt?  Who sounds the alarm?  What of the politicians who live by a different set of rules from the people, who enrich themselves while holding us accountable?  What of the collusion between businesses and government?  Where are the investigative reporters who leave no stone unturned until the truth is revealed?

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Truth has no agenda.  Yet we cannot trust the media to deliver the truth.  We can expect the media to offer selective outrage over the problème du jour.  Dozens of black mothers lose children to violence in Chicago each week, where is the outrage over their loss?  Where is the “Town Hall” assemblage of victims for them?  What of the rapes and murders committed by illegal immigrants or refugees who refuse to assimilate?  Where is the spotlight on the issue?  How about the Trillions in debt being piled on future generations?  Who will be their voice?

What are we to do?  This is not a problem only in the United States, it is an issue in all the western world where we have a supposedly free press.  Certainly, national propaganda is a given in third world nations and those where the media is tied to the government in some way.  The only antidote for the poison of propaganda and fake news is education and a desire for the truth.  Media outlets have to make money, it is up to us to not subsidize those who propagate lies.

Don’t think we cannot have an impact.  Newspaper circulation has been in a decline since the mid-1990s and ad revenue since the mid-2000s.  Network TV has been in a steady decline for the past 6 years.  In fact media, in general, has sunk to new lows.

Stay engaged, stay informed and stay active in your quest for truth.  Just as we the people are to hold politicians accountable, we must do the same to the media.  To the former, we must send home when they stray, to the latter we must make them pay with reduced revenue.

We have the power if we have the will to use it.


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Michael Murphy

by Michael Murphy

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