Today it seems like we are living in a fantasy world where the ruling forces don’t have any grounding or relation to a commonly accepted reality. W.B. Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” written a hundred years ago, still characterizes our times: “The best lack all conviction / While the worst are filled with passionate intensity.”
In this time of “fake news,” who can you believe? How can you sort out the truth? Here is what an article by Daniel Levitin, “Four Ways That Fake News Can Fool You,” lays out:
1) “Lies are tucked in among truths.” Beware of the last few statements that seem to follow from obviously true statements.
2) “Websites masquerade under misleading names.” It is not too difficult to uncover these. If it sounds unlikely, check it carefully.
3) “Numbers given without context.” What do the numbers really tell you? Can you really infer what they claim from those numbers?
4) “Claims rest on false [or irrelevant] sources.” Citations from very impressive-sounding sources may be misleading or completely irrelevant.
Another problem is fake news can come from just about anyplace. Mainstream media have been manufacturing fake news for some time now. Remember the lead up to the Iraq War?
Equally important is noticing what is not reported. Important happenings go unreported if it isn’t in the interests of the powers that be. At the recent gathering of the Democratic Party to elect Tom Perez, what you probably didn’t hear was that they also threw out a policy Obama put in place of no longer relying on big money donors. Whose interests do you really think will be considered first? Another rule in evaluating the news (or the lack of it): always follow the money.
While it is good to have some sense of what is true, we still have to deal with the situation we are presented with. The catchword for progressives today is “Resist!” Although I have a sticker on the back of my car that says as much, I wonder if we aren’t losing sight of the big picture. At best, resisting is reactive, and there is an awful lot happening today that we need to react to. When we are busy resisting, the powers we are resisting are setting the agenda. In following their agenda, it’s easy for us to lose sight of the big picture that we need to be working toward. We can easily lose track of where we need to be going, what we need to be doing one day to the next to dig ourselves out of this mess.
What is the big picture? In Yes! Magazine, Spring 2017, David Korten wrote an article, “The Superrich Have Profited From A Broken System, and Their Money Alone Won’t Fix It.” In it he lays out two overarching goals that should guide our actions going forward:
“1) Heal the Earth as we reduce our human consumption to bring it into balance with the Earth’s regenerative capacity.
2) Eliminate extremes of wealth and poverty and secure for every person access to the essentials of a healthy life.”
It seems to me that we can judge both our and others’ actions by whether they support these two goals.
Are we consuming more resources than we need or creating waste unnecessarily? Of course we are! There is no shortage of ways that we can all cut back. Choosing not to consume or to consume more locally is a political act having consequences for the businesses we favor or don’t favor. We are in an emergency situation, and we need to consider all of our purchases in that context. Buy and travel consciously and strategically. We need to take a fresh look at our garbage. How much is in there that we could have avoided acquiring in the first place (Plastic!)? How much of that garbage can be repurposed? The biggest and easiest part of that is food waste, which will make high quality compost. That would be another reason to be growing your own food, which is right in there with the things we should all be doing. If you aren’t doing this already, check out Zero Waste Vashon for ideas.
We can trace most of our country’s and the world’s problems to wealth disparity. As wealth is concentrated, so is power. The less wealth, and therefore power, people have, the less they can do to take care of themselves, the more they are manipulated by the powerful, and the more unstable and violent will be the prevailing political climate. I might add, the more disparity of wealth, the less people as a whole will be able to act reasonably and effectively to address all the ways we are negatively impacting the Earth, ourselves and every other creature on the planet. We are busy fighting among ourselves while the world is burning.
Keep resisting but, until we consume less and distribute the world’s wealth more fairly, little is likely change for the better. We can do this!