• Mel Jones

It's Only Words

Originally posted August 2016, but still so very relevant in content.

The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. John F. Kennedy.

Often people use words without clear definition. This is the cause for great consternation in our world. Words mean things and if we simply disregard meaning, we limit our ability to communicate. A nation with a limited ability to communicate will descend into chaos. Thus, definitions:

Truth: In accordance with fact or reality.

Belief: Point of view, opinion, interpretation.

Faith: A strong belief in the doctrine or religion based on spiritual conviction rather that proof.

When one looks at the definitions it becomes clear that they are not interchangeable. Fact and opinion are two distinctly different things. I can have an opinion about a fact, but it does not change the fact. When someone says, for example, “I don’t believe in evolution.” Evolution doesn’t care, it continues to be a scientifically proven fact. Did you know that the world headquarters for the Flat Earth Society is in Knoxville Tennessee? The society believes that the earth is flat, and that it is a Globularist conspiracy, lie, that it is round. What? Yes, really. Their belief is not factual. And yet, it is a worldwide organization.

Worldwide, a group of people exist who believe something that the empirical evidence, the facts, say is not so. World. Wide.

True story.

Please do not confuse Truth with Belief. Different words, different meanings. Just because you believe it does not make it true. Someone (and I don’t know who) famously said, I will not debate my facts, or knowledge, with your opinions.

Believe what you will—but always fact check. Snopes is a good place to start.

Faith, a religious belief, or conviction, has little place in our political discourse. So says Jefferson, Madison, Washington, and scores of other instrumental figures in American politics and history.

Liberal: Favoring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform. Regarding many traditional beliefs as dispensable, invalidated by modern thought, or liable to change.

Conservative: Adverse to change or innovation and holding traditional values. Favoring free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas.

I have been called a “bleeding-heart liberal” most of my life; I regard traditional beliefs (please see above) as dispensable, invalidated by modern thought, or liable to change. It’s called the progress. Recently, I was called a conservative. What. The. Fuck. Seriously? What in that definition describes me? Oh, right, nothing. I was called this by someone who believes that to be liberal is to lack patriotism (see below). Said individual is clinging to the ideology that Conservatives own patriotism; that patriotism is a uniquely conservative viewpoint. Again, this belief is not based in fact. You cannot own patriotism. It’s not an ‘enterprise.’ The world is changing. It is no longer defined by your value system. Tradition is an ever evolving thing. Once, it was traditional for humans to be sacrificed, then animals. Now we see these traditions as barbaric. It was traditional for women to stay at home, to be subservient to the men in their lives. Again, as a society, we have evolved. Please get on the train.

Patriot: A person who vigorously supports his or her country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.

Nationalist: A person with strong patriotic feelings, especially one who believes in the superiority of his or her country over others.

The difference in these two words is ever so subtle. And yet, so very, very important. I am a patriot. A liberal patriot, in the same vein as Jefferson—change is not bad. I don’t have to like it, but if it is for the betterment of my country, I will accept it because democracy is about compromise.

The conservative nationalists, or Tea Party movement, want a United States the way it used to be. They don’t want change. But what does that say? A rich, white, male patriarchy—ick! The way it used to be… When we had separate restaurants, water fountains—schools! When people of different colors (for we are all the same race, the Human Race); a time when people with sexual desires or identities that fell outside the conservative norm were imprisoned or beaten; when women were not allowed to obtain credit cards without the signature of their husbands; when birth control required a husband’s permission; when violence against anyone who was not a white male was tolerated, acceptable. A true American patriot would fight against these things, for they define everything that is UnAmerican. So, again, please get the on the train, it leads to a brighter future for everyone.

Leader: The person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.

Representative: (of a legal assembly or deliberative body) consisting of people chosen to act and speak on behalf of a wider group.

I often hear people, from both sides of the aisle call our elected officials leaders, and that’s wrong. The job of our elected officials is to represent us, to vote in accordance with the way their particular constituents would vote. Pretty simple. China and North Korea have leaders, many countries in the Middle East have leaders. We live in the good ol’ US of A, we have representatives. If you cannot grasp this simple concept, it is no wonder our nation is in such political chaos.

Amendment: A minor change or addition to improve a text or piece of legislation.

An Amendment, by definition, is a change. So when you tell people that the Second Amendment cannot be changed, what you are telling them is that you have no concept of how our Constitution works. It’s just that simple. No clue.

Militia: A military force that is raised from the population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.

To supplement a regular army in case of emergency. Supplement, to add to something else to enhance it. Again, if you are using a different definition, you are not using the words correctly. The Second Amendment contains only 27 words, and should not be as misunderstood as it is. In fact, the founding fathers meant for the entire constitution to be a fluid document. It was their general belief that any law that lasted over a decade, probably should be revisited. So, it is time to revisit the second amendment. Now, before more people die.

Media: The main means of mass communication (television, radio, newspapers).

In the United States, we are experiencing a major misunderstanding about media. It is, by definition, different from the press. So, very different. Media includes comedy, satire, talk shows, Howard Fucking Stern. It’s entertainment, not meant to be taken as the gospel.

And social media warps our perception of reality even more. It is likely that your Facebook and Twitter feeds reflect your politics. This skews how you see the world if it is your only means of information gathering.

The media is not held to the same standard as journalists. The media, social or otherwise, can be flooded with opinions not based in fact… Statements with no empirical evidence. That’s not how information works. So read a news source, and again, verify your facts. Please read all of the definitions below.

Press: Newspapers or journalists viewed collectively.

News: newly received or noteworthy information about recent events.

Entertainment: The action of providing or being provided with amusement or enjoyment.

So, to recap, I am not conservative; I am, however, a staunch patriot. Patriotism is not owned by any particular party in this country. As a patriot, I believe that is it my obligation to seek the truth, to research, find empirical evidence to support whatever position I take. To find the facts to be part of a well-informed citizenry. This is my obligation as a citizen. I believe that the press is obligated to bring information that is also based in evidence (I don’t always have this one). Did you know that the press, journalism, is the only civilian occupation mentioned in the constitution. I hold them to that standard.

In seeking the facts, I must decide if any given fact is relevant to the conversation at hand. Is it relevant that Donald Trump has had five children with three women? Nope. However if someone tries to impugn the integrity of the institution of marriage—if someone wants to hold the opinion that gay marriage will destroy the institution and family values with it…. Then I become obligated to bring my documentable facts into play. Does it not devalue the institution of marriage, and family values to have been divorced twice, and have 5 children with three women? I would posit my facts on the matter outweigh your opinions about gay marriage. See how it works?

Your beliefs about anyone or anything, are rendered irrelevant if you cannot support them with facts. So, before you come at me with your beliefs, get some facts. Know what the words you are saying actually mean.

Rant over. Please get on the knowledge train at your earliest convenience.

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