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Maybe You Shouldn't Read This

By: Karen J. Allen
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon
 

I'm starting to wonder if maybe we shouldn't read anything. Everything is spin. I sometimes question if we can even recognize truth anymore.
 
The other day I read an article by some financial guru who predicted that unemployment rates were going to start turning around toward the end of the year. That some sectors of the job market would continue to contract but that others would make up the difference by showing new growth.
 
Great! I'm about to move and will need to find a job. I can adapt and do something new and different. Perked me right up and I trotted through the rest of my day feeling pretty good.

Then, yesterday, I read something else that pulled a quote from the director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, "No immediate recovery of jobs is anticipated, even if the recession officially ends, as some have projected, by next fall. Since unemployment cannot begin to fall until payroll growth hits about one percent - and payroll growth will not hit one percent until [gross domestic product] growth hits at least 2.5 percent to 3 percent - we may not see any substantive payroll growth until late 2010 or 2011, and unemployment could rise until that time."

Ugh! Not feeling so great. How risky is it to give up a fairly decent job (even if its making me miserable) in a city where I have quite a few contacts and go traipsing off to someplace where I will be starting from scratch in the current economy? Got a little scared and depressed and slunk through the rest of the day.

Two articles taking statements from experts, no doubt out of context, and using them to reinforce whatever point they were trying to make. Much like our legal system where each side hires their own experts. Please note I said "legal", not "justice".

I do understand the temptation to embellish. There are so many voices clamoring for attention that it feels like you have to be louder or more outrageous or over the top in some way to stand a chance of being heard. Years ago, I was na├»ve enough to believe that people would see through the smoke. Look past the mirrors. But pundits are celebrities, senators and congressmen bow down to the likes of Rush Limbaugh and, while venerable newspapers are now thought of as endangered species, grocery store check-out aisles have never been so crowded with National Enquirer clones.  

I could list example after example. Like.....even before President Obama named Federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his pick for the Supreme Court, Republicans were organizing their opposition. They were working on their spin. And, yes, I do know that the Democrats would have been doing the same thing.

That is the problem. It's more than that no one cares about truth anymore. I'm not sure all that many even give it a thought. It's all about winning.

I said that I understand the temptation to embellish. Trying to come up with articles for this newsletter every week that will be useful and, hopefully, entertaining is difficult. When you know a lot about the belief system of your audience, it is so easy to just allow yourself to write to that. Find issues that push emotional buttons and then just spin away. Don't antagonize anyone by trying to look at things impartially or from the viewpoint of the other side. Unfortunately, we all gravitate toward those who tell us what we want to hear. So, playing that angle can make you very popular.

But at what cost?

To me, it feels like our world is spinning out of control. We expect it in sales material but it's everywhere. Perhaps of greatest importance to us is the spin used by those most determined to deny the GLBT community equal rights. And, yes, I think they are far worse, but don't we do the same thing when we speak of the Religious Right?

Text books and the teachers who use them spin history based on who's doing the retelling. I'm about to start the interview process for a new job --- what do you want to bet I won't be doing a bit of spinning of my own?

Politicians.....well, honestly, if you remove the spin, would there be anything left to a politician? And when was the last time you dated? Talk about spin! Even parents use some pretty broad strokes when they paint pictures for their kids --- from the evils of the world that they want them to avoid to the rosy-colored haze they draw around the difficulties of sustaining a marriage.

I could go on and on. I find myself putting books, interesting appearing books, back on the shelf because there is a little voice inside of me that asks, with increasing regularity, "Why would you believe what this guy says?" There used to be a distinct difference between fiction and non-fiction. Today, we have a genre known as "creative non-fiction". What is that? I think maybe more truth is to be found in fiction where no one pretends it to be other than a creative endeavor.

So, while I could keep going, I won't. But let me ask you all a question. What exactly is truth? Is it what most people believe? Like the world is flat --- until someone sails around it? Or like the distinction between matter and energy --- until someone discovers quarks and such? Or like "I will love and want to be with you forever" --- until I don't? 

Can truth change? Does truth change?

 

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I was hoping for a response from some of our readers --- and I still am. But as soon as I posted my initial draft on the website that we use to store and edit material for the newsletter, Ann-Marie took it and ran with it. So, instead of an installment of Fit in a Year, we have A Response to my musings on truth.

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A Response

By: Ann-Marie Giglio
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

 

What about truth?  Is it the truth when a food label claims "0 Trans Fats" yet actually contains 0.4gms per serving?  With a manipulated serving size?  And what about the wrapper?  No doubt it says in large, bold letters:  Trans-Fat Free.  Is that the truth?

Is it the truth when people say it's ok to do what you want to do in your own bedroom, but then they vote against equal rights?  Were they lying about their attitude about freedom? 

Or do they use a different definition.  And then which definition is correct?  In other words, true?

I had a teacher once--in high school of all places--who told us that truth was an agreement.  Nothing more, nothing less.  An agreement made amongst groups of people, between couples, with our selves.  And that the only way Truth could survive was as long as people continued to agree that it existed in the form they created for it. 

That definition has always served me well.  It's made me conscious of the fragility of truth, even though we speak of Truth as if it is cast in stone. 

Take that AIDS walk.  The truth of that walk was an agreement amongst 45,000 people to walk peacefully through the streets of Manhattan, rain or shine, to represent what we all believed to be true:  that AIDS is a devastating disease, that more research is needed, and people currently ill must have our help.  Imagine if we hadn't agreed to be nice.

But it wouldn't have taken much to break that agreement.  One person calling folks to arms.  One sleep-deprived or homophobic police officer annoyed with us for shutting down traffic. 

That's it.  The agreement could have been broken in a heartbeat.

The way our government has historically broken agreements with us for most of my voting life.  Telling us one thing, while doing another. 

The way friends have done the same thing.  Many of us have friends we no longer see because truth shifted on us.  Or they broke the agreement. 

One year, we can all agree that Equal Rights for everyone is the most important thing on Earth.  And the next, Global Warming can be the new Truth we all strive for. 

The important thing about Truth is that what is true for some is not always true for all, but if you have enough agreement, we can pass laws.  And we can turn off our televisions and go outside.  See if people are still eating in restaurants.  See if folks are still keeping their grass mowed.  The economy is not limited to the speculative sector.  Yes, that part tanked.  It always does.  But it will be back.  Speculators, bottom feeders, wave riders--they're all still out there. 

But the truth is, so are we.  And we just keep doing what we do, putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.


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Did we get a bit philosophical on you? I know, we could have talked about how frustrated and angry and hurt we all are about the California State Supreme Court upholding Proposition 8. But we all know that. We'll talk more about it another day. It's certainly not over --- but things seem a lot different than they did in November. I think we're all daring to be more hopeful than we've ever been. 

So, maybe you'll forgive us for our little spin on truth. Even better, maybe you'll join us. Share your thoughts on truth --- or Truth. We'd love to hear from you. Just write to us at admin@onthegayhorizon.com .

 

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