Friday 2 January 2009

Thought Picnic: Our Truth


A friend once commented that I have a way of making a deep analysis of very simple issues – maybe it is a foible, but true to that observation I have decided to start a topical blog called – Thought Picnic – You get a brainwave and suddenly decide to go out into nature with a picnic basket of snacks and fellowship whilst admiring the beauty of nature.

The Thought Picnic visits the imponderable, sometimes it would admire thoughts, thinking or ideas but then there are times when it would all seem incredible, astonishing, amazing and downright outrageous – but that is a matter of opinion, not necessarily fact.

My first Thought Picnic appears below, it does not follow my stricter attribution system but all references are fully acknowledged with the text.

Lying to the truth

George Michael wrote in his song, Freedom – “All we have to do is take these lies and make them true, somehow”.

We find ourselves in a situation that we cannot trust that we are hearing or reading the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Your opinions against the facts

Sadly, we are caught in a war of opinions about all sorts of issues which is fine and we have Senator Moynihan to thank for saying, “You are entitled to your own opinion but you not entitled to your own facts.”

What then is fact and what is fiction? Who documents the facts, who verifies the facts and who publishes those facts?

Those are the difficult questions and this is not helped by a comment that gives this blog its title; made by an Israeli representative this afternoon about their YouTube uploads showing their precision targeting in one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

“We are showing the world our truth”, she said – that elicited a wry smile from me, but truth has become a commodity to be managed and traded by those who can control access to the raw data that is gathered together to make up the body of facts.

The truth in the grist mill of propaganda

That way you find that journalists are not allowed in Gaza as the defence, retaliation, discipline, containment, war, massacre, carnage or genocide depending on which opinion of the facts appeals to you most from how each side wants you to view the situation.

And so we find that governments are unable in the main to tell the truth and so they repackage it for consumption and for those who do not bother to research beyond the headlines; who do not seek the facts, the detail behind the facts and whose agenda is being promoted; they are the sponges for what is conveniently called propaganda.

They are at pains to offer a perspective that is almost plausible but sounds so hollow to any right-thinking person who applies commonsense to the issue, it makes you cringe.

If I may, propaganda is the manufacture of a perspective to obfuscate the facts in order to create a truth of what is usually blatantly a lie, just because someone somewhere does not believe we can handle the truth – the resources required to maintain the machinery of propaganda is unwieldy.

Fact or perspective?

But in the game that juxtaposes fact against fiction and truth against opinion the big battles for the mind and elicitation of support for each position then becomes.

Almost 400 Palestinians have died in Israel’s precision targeting of Hamas infrastructure in probably the most densely populated place in the world whilst 4 Israelis have died as a result of Hamas’ imprecise and random home-made missiles falling on Israeli border towns - what is the significance of the numbers of the dead and people killed compared to the effectiveness of each campaign?

Is Palestine a worthwhile cause in the face of the purported defence of Israel against terrorism, the walls being built, the settlements that thrive or the supposed aggression of Israel against Palestinians in Gaza?

Is Hamas a legitimate democratic choice of the Palestinians or the pariah of terrorism as seen by the West?

Are the problems of Zimbabwe caused by white rule or black rule?

Should there be a free press including complete Western access to all issues, events and people in Zimbabwe and would this depict the whole truth?

Is the government of Sudan justified in crushing the rebels in Darfur?

Do your research

There are many questions and what suffers in finding answers to these questions is the way the opinions get in the way of the facts, the truth suffers for the portrayal of a preferred lie and the most disgrace propaganda tools are deployed in the process of presenting a manufactured view as news.

The old saying avers that all that glitters is not gold, but if we do not scratch the surface we would have paid for something that is probably completely worthless – it is incumbent on every consumer of information to objectively seek the facts and peel off the veneer of news and opinion to get at the truth – Do not be sold on everything that seems to agree with your pre-disposed sentiment.

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