False narratives damage the tellers most.

We humans are storytelling creatures. Facts simply don’t have the power of stories, which is why narratives are so effective and popular. If a narrative, a story told over and over purporting to explain, is false, but is repeated often enough, it becomes like revealed truth. If the narrative is false, it may fool some people hearing or reading it, but repeating it damages the credibility and self respect of the teller even more; Especially if they know it’s false.

This morning I was at the V.A. Hospital for some tests. The government mandates that they always start with some basic questions, to confirm that they have the right person in front of them: Full name, social security number, date of birth, and a brand new one, “what gender do you identify with?” Yes, exactly. As he (clearly male, with the beard and hulking muscles…at least I hope he was) immediately apologized for asking (“we are required to ask “), then looked at me expectantly, I said, in my most baritone voice, “I don’t identify as anything, I am male.” He later related a story about how he and his brother, also a veteran, hugged when his brother got back from Iraq, and someone who saw them asked him, “which one of you is the husband?”

Let’s start with a false narrative which is a the foundation of all false narratives: There is no sovereign God who created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them. By extension, let’s call it a sub-narrative, there is no absolute authority who/which determines what is true and what is false. The corollary is, everyone is free to determine their own truth, to be their own authority. Put in theological terms, because what we worship sets the rules for our behavior and opinions, we are each the god of our world. Under that principle, no narrative is false, because all narratives are just a different person’s version of truth. Now here’s the big paradox in that viewpoint: If you believe the previous sentence, as most liars do, then nobody lies! What an appropriate paradox, that those who are usually quickest to accuse someone else of lying don’t believe in absolute truth, which eliminates the possibility of lying.

A lie, by definition, is telling something you know to be false (commission) or leaving out something relevant you know to be true (omission). But if you believe it, it isn’t a lie, right? I read a response to a blog from “citizen Tom” by someone with the handle “Tsalmon” who excoriated both Donald Trump and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), as liars and self-promoters, but who opined, Trump was worse because he knows he’s lying and she believes her lies. She’s a more sincere liar? If it were possible to read minds or hear someone’s internal dialogue, then we could perhaps determine who believes what they are saying and who doesn’t, yet does that matter? If someone believes there’s no objective truth, which is to say “my opinions are the truth or are as valid as any truth”, that has no effect on whether something is actually true or false. If you believe something or promote something–whether you believe it or not–that’s false, you will be more damaged in the long run than those who hear it or read it and don’t believe it. The person who is damaged the most, however, is the person promoting what they know is a lie. They are damaging their very souls, whether or not they are directly affected by the lies, and ultimately are excising their ability to recognize when they are lying. Let’s expand this.

Perhaps the best, or at least the most accessible, way of determining whether someone is spreading a lie, is charges. Racist, sexist, homophobic, islamophobic, misogynistic are all charges, slogans that accuse someone of harboring hatred, contempt, or some other negative attitudes and beliefs about a certain group of people. These charges have in common: 1. the claim to be able to read human minds, 2. conflating statements with feelings, 3. invalidating even the most objective criticism of actions, 4. expanding any statement about an individual or a behavior to the entire group having a similar characteristic. “But what if that teller of tales, that spreader of the narrative, believes what they are saying?” Read this very carefully: The person who uses charges is telling lies, regardless of whether they believe what they are saying, because the very charges themselves have four requirements that are untrue!

1. Can anyone read minds? No, but if you insist you can, do I have a straightjacket for you. 2. If you make statement about behavior or suggest an action, does that reveal what you truly feel about a group of people? No, that’s the same thing as mind reading. 3. If you criticize an action or make a statement based on evidence, can it be invalidated by a charge? No, our legal system is based on standards of evidence, either beyond a reasonable doubt (in criminal courts) or preponderance of evidence (civil court). 4. Is a statement about an individual necessarily a judgment on a whole group? No, it’s a judgment about that individual.

Let’s get specific about charges. By now, virtually everyone who has a smartphone or watches tv or the Internet knows that President Trump has issued statements or tweets that have been called racist, misogynistic, sexist, homophobic and islamophobic, right? I analyzed his latest “racist” tweets in a previous blog and didn’t find them racist nor, because he was referring to women, did I find them misogynistic. I won’t go over my arguments again, you can read them. I agree with the principles he tweeted. If you can possibly pretend that you saw those 3 tweets and didn’t know who sent them, and simply read the words, what principles did he espouse? Basically, before you criticize our country unjustly, show me your ideas of how a country should be governed, and let’s start with the ones you identify with. Oh, and by the way, rather than just theorizing, go and show us how to fix a broken system, thus helping the people in those countries as well. How is that racist? If Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib actually took sabbaticals to Somalia and Gaza respectively, while applying our constitutional principles or anything else they learned here in those places, who would be enriched? They, the people they are helping and even our people would benefit assuming they were in a position to effectively implement improvements.

More precisely, since I have already invalidated the word “racist” itself as a charge based on four invalid ideas, how is his tweet expressing animosity towards the races of these progressives? What if he had named them, and they were all female and POCs, would his exact words have indicated hostility towards darker skinned people (racist charge) and women (misogynistic charge)? Not without you making a lot of inferences (it’s Trump, everyone knows he’s racist, sexist, etc). What do the words actually say? Can you even separate the principles and words from what you think of the person writing them? Not if you’ve bought the narrative.

At this point, it will be easy to separate those who have bought into an inferential narrative so strong they can’t objectively evaluate the words written, and those who still have the ability to read and understand the English language without thinking they can read minds. The former group would respond to my blog with some variation of: 1. You’re racist; or 2. You’re just pro Trump; or 3. You hate Democrats/women of color/etc. Okay then, let’s get even more specific. I will save the racist charges for the next post, which will attempt to completely unpack what racism is and is not, including being specific about what I believe about race. I agree that many of President Trump’s tweets and attributed statements can be interpreted as demeaning to specified individuals and countries, and I don’t like the language of most of those, nor do I agree with many of them and I wish he would stop. For example, when he referred to certain “shithole countries”, which were probably Yemen, Somalia, Honduras and Venezuela, I would have used different words, liked “failed states” or “dumpster fires”, and I don’t think our country’s president should refer to any other countries that way, even though most of us, in private, equity think of a lot of places that way. Not having been privy to private conversations of our other presidents, I’m only guessing that they all (even the sainted Obama) referred to many countries that way. Perhaps their emigrants agree?

If I get the option to vote for Ted Cruz or Mike Pence or Dan Crenshaw for president, I would prefer their style over that of Trump, though I am not sure how effectively they could bait the Democrats or the dominant media into revealing their agenda. Because politicians and bureaucrats can do and have done far more to damage our country than to benefit it, I would vote for whomever can most effectively provoke them to reveal their agenda and stymie their efforts, and right now that is Trump. Because anyone who dares question the false narratives of our time is fodder for charges, and I declare (in case any reader might still wonder) almost every narrative purveyed by the Democrats, the Mediated Reality establishment, leftists, Antifa and fellow travelers is false, and for those among them who believe their bullshit, their ability to separate truth from lies is probably irreparably gone.

If you read this post as a defense of Trump, you have missed the entire point, and provided the evidence for my main point: Those who keep repeating a narrative, someone else’s charges about a person, instead of evaluating their words at face value, risks losing their ability to discern facts from fictions. There is no better example than the reality of the immigrant detention procedures and facilities, versus the media and Democrats’ narratives. AOC, for example, never even entered the facility she claimed was so inhumane. Protecting the narrative was more important than reality.

Author: iamcurmudgeon

When I began this blog, I was a 70 year old man, with a young mind and a body trying to recover from a stroke, and my purpose for this whole blog thing is to provoke thinking, to ridicule reflex reaction, and provide a legacy to my children.

3 thoughts on “False narratives damage the tellers most.”

  1. He later related a story about how he and his brother, also a veteran, hugged when his brother got back from Iraq, and someone who saw them asked him, “which one of you is the husband?”

    “We both are. Our wives are meeting here any minute now.”

    Liked by 1 person

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