Perception is Reality is Truth so be Afraid, be VERY Afraid

Yesterday’s mail brought a solicitation from some left of center group screaming bloody murder that, if we didn’t act now, the ultra religious right bigots would take over government and shove their brand of Christianity down everyone’s throats.  Our liberty would be lost forever.  This morning I got a fear mongering call from the NRA warning that the “gun hating Congress” would soon pass HR 45 (a bill that would require a license to own a gun) and our liberty would be lost forever.  Those are only two examples of a very common propaganda tactic that uses extreme political hyperbole to do nothing more than incite fear, suspicion and hate.  I’m really fed up with it.

For the first thirty years of my career I was employed in local and state government and by a large association representing business interests.  The lobbying I witnessed and engaged in was, on the whole, a vigorous representation of what each participant saw as important to the overall well being of the community and the nation within the context of what was also important to the well being of particular communities, industries and companies.  The intent was always to reach a workable compromise that everyone could live with. That started to change somewhere in the 80s. 

First came new colleagues who quickly revealed themselves to be primarily interested in their conservative evangelical Christian agenda, and considered the job to be a conduit for working on it.  Then came political strategists claiming that the ‘other side’ was staking out such an extreme position that any compromise would only end with ‘our side’ losing.  Therefore, we needed to stake out an equally extreme position in order for fair negotiations to take place.  It made a certain amount of sense as long as it wasn’t examined because that would reveal that the ‘other side’ was not very extreme at all, and ‘our side’s’ defensive tactic simply tilted all the weight in our direction with no intention of fair negotiation. 

To be sure, it was a tactic employed both on the right and the left, but the right had it down pat and did it better.  Truth became a matter of perception, or, as the popular phrase goes, perception is reality.  Who cared what the facts revealed as long as there was at least some evidence or argument that could be twisted to form a perception that could be sold as truth, the scarier the better.   The selling of the Iraq war was, perhaps, the epitome of that art, but not the end of it.  We are seeing some of that tactic being used in the Sotomayor nomination, and certainly in the two knucklehead communications that have come to our house in the last few days.  I believe it’s a dangerous game to play.  It’s a game that is potentially destructive of liberal (in the traditional sense) democracy.  I’m not sure how to put a stop to it except to encourage as many as possible to stand up and say “knock it off” every time a call or solicitation comes their way, even for causes with which they might otherwise agree. 


4 thoughts on “Perception is Reality is Truth so be Afraid, be VERY Afraid”

  1. Our diocesan financial advisor recently commented that \”the market is only driven by two emotions: greed and fear.\” The more I think about it, the more I realize how often this is true beyond our economic culture– and how difficult, and important, it is to stand and speak another way, as he Gospel bids us in the opposite direction.

  2. Reading this post makes me very sad, because it is true, and because so much of American Christianity, at least, is based on fear. This appears to be our way of life, fear, fear of hell, of doing the wrong thing, of being the wrong sort of person, of contamination, etc. I wonder how the Gospel got twisted, how fear of God became so important and prevalent in its usage. If our relationship to God is one of fear, how are we to relate to other realities? If our motivation to do \”good\” is fear of punishment, or hell, how are we to ever be free? I read somewhere the big shift of Jesus was the replacement of the laws of Justice & mercy with the laws of Love & mercy. This as it turns out is a hard shift to wrap my brain around, especially as it moves from the place of words to feelings. How we have let our sisters and brothers manipulate the church to a place of growing ever less relevant, ever less hopeful, by the use of fear theology. As we pray so shall we prey. God asked \”Why are you hiding?\”, God asked \”What have you done?\” theologians of fear and atonement have a lot to answer for.I don't think we can put a stop to such fear mongering, the messengers of evil will be deceived and will try to deceive in any way they can. Like following Christ, it is a matter of personal responsibility only, allow ourselves to be healed of fear, then heal those around us from fear, free ourselves to love selflessly then shine that light of God brightly where we are planted, personal, one on one, event by event, situation by situation

  3. A very good post CP. It is good to learn more about you and understand you better. The opposition to the new court nomination seems insane and anti human! She is such a good choice!

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