When someone gets us to focus on one thing — something insignificant but shiny — so we miss the big thing, the real thing taking place, that’s misdirection. And Merlin’s apprentices aren’t the only ones skilled at it. Con artists, addicts, manipulators, a few media organizations and some government officials (aspiring or elected) practice misdirection too.
They do it because misdirection works. Done well – with a clear end game in mind by those doing the misdirecting – misdirection can trigger other events, such as getting misinformed citizens so riled about lies, misinformation and half-truths that we jump on bandwagons taking us someplace we don’t want or need to go. Meanwhile we don’t see the real thing, that thing we should see and understand, until it’s too late.
I love technology and will be the first (or third) to upgrade to all promised increases in connectivity speed. I surround myself with recent technology released by PC and Mac. I also believe that most things aren’t good or bad in and of themselves but it’s the use or abuse of things that make them good or bad.
With that said, the internet has become a favored tool to perpetuate widespread misdirection. Anyone with a few bucks and access to the internet can access the minds of anyone who can read or hear and has internet access and that translates to millions if not billions of people around the globe.
In the old days when we relied on organizations like the Associated Press for news, we didn’t need to fact-check what we read. But getting our information haphazardly from the internet changes – or should change – the experience of reading for us. What we read on the internet may or may not be factual.
The sources for the writing may or may not be credible. There may or may not even be sources for what we read because we may be reading someone’s personal opinion, an opinion that may have been based on misinformation.
Did you ever participate in a bonding 101 exercise where you and other people sit on chairs in a circle and the first person whispers something to the next, who’s supposed to repeat what he or she heard by whispering it to the next person, until the message returns to the person who started it? Usually, the message has changed substantially by that time, bearing little if any resemblance to the original one.
It’s a challenge to communicate clearly and honestly. It’s easy to spread rumors, lies, innuendos and half-truths even when that’s not our intention.
I had a friend who regularly called me in that breathless, drama-addict tone that many of us have grown to hate. On any given day, he’d be in a tither about, for instance, how “people were waking up in hotel room bathtubs minus their kidneys after going out on one date” and any number of other bizarre urban legends.
On any given day, after listening to my friend’s most recent horrific story, I’d ask him to identify the source of his information. The real source. That’s when I’d hear silence, followed by the almost-discernible fizzle as his drama balloon popped.
For a while, I made it my personal mission to train my friend to distinguish fact from fiction but I failed. He enjoyed the drama rush too much.
Despite my friend’s desire to cling to fantasy, I’m still convinced that most people prefer fact to mistruth, hyperbole and lies — especially when the information concerns events directly affecting us.
Right now, I’m busy writing (because that’s what I do for a living) and with renovating my home and office (because that’s where I live and work). I haven’t made my online forums a priority because I can only do one thing well at once (and occasionally have difficulty with that).
But last week, on October 1, 2013, a new priority rose to the top of my list when a group of lawmakers who some elected officials refer openly to as “extremist Republicans” took actions that look similar to holding President Obama and the federal government hostage.
Issues raised by the “extremist Republicans” include whether to lift the nation’s debt ceiling and an attempt to at least postpone if not repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, even though it’s been voted into legislation, integrated into the first steps of action and upheld each of the past 43 times the Republicans tried to get the Affordable Health Care Law repealed.
People on death row don’t get as many appeals as the Republicans have sought. Opposing lawmakers describe the extremist Republicans’ behavior as similar to throwing a temper tantrum because they didn’t get their way.
But unlike a child’s tantrum, until this group of Republicans get what they want, they have begun and will continue to defund not the government but our government and country – actions with potentially devastating, disastrous long and short-term consequences.
National parks shut down first.
Next to be defunded (if they’re not already) will be federal programs that help the nine women and one man who die daily in the United States from domestic violence and federal programs helping the four children under age five who die daily in this country from abuse, usually at the hands of people entrusted with caring for them.
Social Security payments will stop on October 17th, 2013, when the Rad Republicans defund that program.
Next begins the United States defaulting on their debts which will rock our economy beyond anything we can comprehend.
I haven’t heard or read about any plans to defund the paychecks for the “extremist Republicans” holding our country hostage but I wish that would happen until these lawmakers begin behaving in a manner befitting elected officials.
Topics like “the debt ceiling” and “the Affordable Health Care Act” (also known as ObamaCare) can appear too complicated to understand but they’re not. It’s crucial that we each strive to understand these issues, as quickly as possible.
We can be strange creatures, we human beings. It’s common – often instinctive – to overreact, when stressed, to minutia as we do the turning molehills into mountains thing. It’s also common to underreact when a legitimate crisis occurs.
That’s what’s happening now. That’s why I’m writing this blog. I’m writing (and yelling), “Fire.” “Run.” “Look out.” “Do something and do it fast.”
I’m a registered Democrat but have voted for candidates from both parties. In the last two presidential elections, I voted for Barrack Obama. I believe that now and especially later as we get the perspective brought only by retrospect, President Barrack Obama will be known historically as one of our greatest presidents.
In recent months, I began asking people if they’ve been harmed in any way by ObamaCare, and if so, exactly how. Not one person has reported suffering any harm or unwanted changes in their medical care from passage of the Affordable Health Care Act. Some people have even gone so far as to tell me that ObamaCare helped them. “Finally, I have health insurance,” said one woman in her mid-thirties whose pre-existing medical conditions prevented her from getting insurance until ObamaCare made it possible.
The Affordable Health Care Act (and State Farm Insurance) saved my life. I had just hit my lifetime cap on my private health insurance policy when the first stage of ObamaCare kicked in, lifting the lifetime cap. This year, the cost of my health insurance premiums decreased by almost $2000 a quarter.
So far, I haven’t met with or talked to one person who’s been harmed by ObamaCare but I have found people who have been significantly helped by it. (Online reports in forums from people I don’t personally know and who are hiding behind a fake identity don’t count in my information-gathering process.)
I know this subject is editorial and not the typical blog I post. I also understand that politics shouldn’t influence recovery but they do. Rehabilitation programs that have been systematically defunded over the years, treatment increasingly made available only to people of means or with fantastic insurance, is now scheduled to be available to everyone through President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act beginning in 2014.
Last week, I stopped writing and stopped working on the house and office redo because I believe that the current situation with the federal government is a crisis and should be treated like one by each of us.
I contacted the people I voted for, asked them what they were doing about what’s taking place (or not taking place), and then stated clearly what my interests are and what I want in the hopes that officials I helped elect could properly represent my interests in Washington D.C.
I share my political views with you not so you will believe what I believe, but to encourage you to understand what you believe – to deliberately seek to make an informed opinion based on fact and then contact your elected officials and tell them, so they can represent you in D.C., too.
An aside: it’s not the government. It’s our country and our government – one of the people, by the people, for the people. But our elected officials can’t represent our interests if we don’t let them know what our interests are. We are the people. It’s time to begin acting like it.
If you don’t know what you believe, find out. If you don’t understand the current shutdown, watch some legitimate news programs presenting more than superficial fluff pieces.
Elected officials used to be called “Public Servants.” It’s time to expect them to behave that way by serving the needs of their constituency instead of serving their own personal interests.
Enjoy magic tricks, but not when they’re done by the government. Stop falling for the shiny spectacles, loud voices and other misdirections. Seek a greater truth and then take action based on it.
That’s when the real magic begins.
From the desk of Melody Beattie
October 6, 2013
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