History: To Study or Not To Study

The more I study history the harder it becomes to ignore the ignorant who have been fed propaganda and generalizations rather than actual history with all its good, bad, and complicated parts.

The notion that one must tear apart mythology in order to seek fact does not appeal to me, nor does the idea that all facts must be conclusively proven in order to be held as true. Yet on the other hand, I find the the idea that mythology and popular lore should be the only history consumed by a patriotic citizenry just as unappealing.

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Saith Me… Fake News

Sometimes you really wish the fake news was the real news because it makes you laugh rather than makes you want to cry.

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Bias in the Media

Media bias comes in two forms, the suppression of news coverage and the coverage of news in a manner that constitutes propaganda. Propaganda, or what we are being told and sold, makes up half the problem of biased reporting, the other half of the problem lies in the suppression of news.

In an article I was reading this morning, published by POLITICO, there was a great quote by Sharyl Attkisson, “The images that the public sees every day, in many forms, are influenced and manipulated by political, corporate and other special interests through orchestrated and well-financed campaigns.”

I had great hopes, for a brief moment, that for once the media would discuss the presence of and issues caused by corporate or special interest bias in the media. Sadly, rather than branching out past the standard issue of political bias in the media, the article only focused on the well discussed presence of political bias.

Political bias/propaganda is fairly easy for most people to identify, and the educated can maneuver through it with little difficulty. Although frustrating, political bias is not the real danger because it is relatively obvious. It is the corporate and special interest bias/propaganda that hold the real danger for the public, because of the difficulty identifying the motivation. We could say, “It is all about money,” but this oversimplification obscures the difficulties we face in identifying what money is purchasing. Certainly, a corporation would want to increase its earnings and thereby wish to wage a campaign against anything that threatens earning potential, but unlike with pure political bias, the public is more often then not unaware the campaign is being waged. Special interest bias/propaganda is even more difficult to identify, because unlike in a political campaign where the special interest group is identified at the end, news coverage does not include a “paid for by” statement at the end of each news story. Nor will you hear a “this story which we did not cover was suppressed by” statement during the news coverage.

While many can learn to read between the lines of propaganda and glean an understanding of bias, one cannot read between the lines when there are no lines due to suppression.

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Stop Condescending the Youth

Stop Condescending the Youth – my thought on banning books. Inspired by John Green, after reading one of his recent tumblr posts and watching a 2008 volg.

Parents should have a voice in their student’s education, and balanced curriculum is vital, but at the heart of any book banning discussion seems to be the perceived notion that the youth cannot handle the material. Is it any wonder that so many 18-20 year-olds make terrible choices once they leave the confines of parental oversight?

I would rather have my youth confront life while still at home than to have them face it for the first time when they are on their own. This philosophy has not made parenting easy, but I didn’t sign up for easy.

I grew up in a very conservative community where one very conservative religious group dominated the society and the politics. Yet, I still read books considered controversial, some that have been on banned lists elsewhere. The best classroom discussions came from these books and prepared me for the great human stories I went on to read in college. More importantly, these books have aided me throughout my years as a mother.

So my take on controversial reading material – Parents READ the books, and then DISCUSS them with your teen before they discuss them in class. The shock you will receive from the book is nothing compared to what your kid already faces or will face in school, particularly in college even if they attend a very conservative/religious college.

The material that seems to be at the heart of this latest controversy pales in comparison with what my son encountered while taking classes at a nearby school. It was not material addressed in class but was the conversations and actions outside of class, and it shocked the administration when my son finally reported the language and behaviors he encountered in non-classroom activities. As a parent, I assure you, I would have been much happier if my middle-school child would have had exposure due to “book discussion” rather than exposure due to normal youth behavior. Normal had changed since I was in school and since the administrators had been in school. We were all shocked, dismayed, and deeply troubled by what we learned.

Discussion of the issues and norms needs to be part of a youth’s education. Maybe if the older students had been more aware, more educated, then they could have acted where adults could not have. We need to stop condescending our youth and instead empower them with knowledge gained from discussing hard, controversial topics.

Since I am personally acquainted with the people behind the latest petition to remove books from school curriculum, I would ask that anyone reading this avoid emailing the people directly, but instead only contact the school district in question with comments. While my readership is small, only a minuscule fleck of dust compared to John Green’s, I would not wish to cause issue for the people involved. Comments of criticism and/or comments of support should ONLY be sent to the district. Edit – it appears John Green removed the link to the petitioners. Good.

 

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Saith Me… Choosing to be Miserable

Interpersonal connections through various modes and methods, specifically during this past two months, have reminded me of the old saying,

“You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”

There is one category starkly missing, some people can never be pleased because they are determined to be miserable.

Regardless of the justifications of misery – temporary or chronic – there is a stark difference between experiencing misery and being miserable.

Wretched, distressful events occur, but it is a choice one makes to become wretchedly distressed by the events. The key factor separating the experience of misery and being miserable is Choice.

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Saith Me… Opinionated and Uninformed

It is amazing how many uniformed people have such strong opinions, and such strong desires to share those opinions.

Under-informed and curious, good combination. Uninformed and angry, not such a good combination.

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What will be remembered?

Being fully aware of political spin and propaganda, I am wondering if in the end this letter will be what history records for future generations to study.

Willingness to come together for war, but government shutdown in an attempt to stop a health care law. Where does this leave us and what does this mean for our future? Most importantly, what does this really say about us as a nation?

Reid to Boehner 2013

 

PDF of the letter can be found at the ‘letter’ link and at the following:  harry-reid-letter-to-john-boehner.pdf