MORNING HAS BROKEN
Our culturally successful swear word, formed by four letters starting with the letter “F,” has become so famous it is often used in non-English speaking countries as a favored expletive of their own.
If we take this word down to the nuclear family, where and when it is learned and practiced by our young, we discover why the seemingly nasty word, disparaged by almost everyone and yet still used by almost everyone, is pervasively with us and unlikely to ever be eliminated from our lexicon.
Children’s minds, when they are toddlers, act like accurate tape recorders, absorbing even the smallest details of movement, action, and language. They learn to speak by mimicking the adults who surround them. They have significantly less ability or motivation to respond to instructions, guidance or commands from those adults. Small children live in the real world down below the phenomenal world of large hominids. They learn the “F” word by hearing it. They place importance on remembering, and eventually using it, because of the emotion that is usually delivered along with the word. When they grow they use the word, because of how they learned it, and also by having gauged its effectiveness. No verbal orders or discussions change this, as all of us who have raised families can attest.
Television came along just as the WWII generation was coming home. The “F” word being used by most of the population on a frequent basis is not significant unless we consider it an example of the process of how it came to be so deeply embedded in our culture. We, adults, watch television and see what is happening in the world. We experience first hand the acceptability of lying as a tool for success. Both our current and future leaders tell the hugest of lies. They are often caught in the telling of those lies, and then they are elected to the office anyway.
Somewhere, a few years after the invention of television, our culture began to break down. Whereas previously, through most all of time actually, humans could go along with mythological constructs they didn’t necessarily believe but at least accepted. Television swept away that capability. We cannot watch the Japanese tsunami happen on television, then be informed that it wasn’t so bad and few people were hurt or killed, when we have seen the true situation. We also cannot watch so many of our peers succeed on television, know they are telling great lies, but recognizing that without telling those lies they wouldn’t have succeeded, or be on that screen and therefore making all that money.
In the present, the broken mornings we awaken to are filled with trepidation about how much of such activity we must participate in to be able to compete and succeed. We pensively study the differential situation of a truth-telling Bradley/Chelsea Manning who harmed no one anybody knows about, but is likely to spend long bouts in prison, and then follow the case of Dick Cheney, who lied about almost everything while in office, being responsible for the deaths of likely hundreds of thousands, and yet living the life of a respected comfortable billionaire. We don’t know how to heal the culture when it comes to such prevarication, and neither does the culture itself.
The Internet, Television and Social Media sites have reduced the ability of humans to lie in the face of published and publishable facts. What was born out of this was not a culture where lying is minimized. No, what was born was that a good part of the culture has come to accept ‘alternative’ facts, which are certainly not true or facts at all. They are lies. And the culture has come to accept that lying and then denying it is almost the same as not having told the lie at all. This kind of activity is all over the television and Internet now, intensified by the elections looming up ahead.
What can be done about this frightening change, where science itself has become as suspect as the physics we all know allows the planet to go around and all of us to stick to its surface? We must gird ourselves down and await the next iteration of technological development, and while we do that we must adjust our level of tolerance for the sea of lying which we are going to have to first wade and then swim through. Rising information technology created this problem, and rising technology will eventually work through it.
The problem becomes just how much uncomfortable time is the population willing to invest in the waiting.