On Our Post Truth World, Empathy and Decisional Responsibility

Almost without regard to political self-identification, it appears that the vast majority of the current population is certain that they are being deliberately deceived by groups with specific, self-serving agendas.  And they’re right, truth appears out of reach if one relies on traditional sources.  However, non-traditional sources are so varied (and sometimes deceptively controlled by traditional sources) that they are also all too often inaccurate.  That leaves us, as individuals, with the task of using our own investigative and cognitive powers to determine for ourselves, based on our own experience and our own common sense, what is more likely than not to be accurate and useful information.  A daunting task given our myriad quotidian responsibilities and limitations.

One of the major and most effective tools used by disseminators of disinformation is linguistic, the misuse of language, either deliberately or through ignorance. All too frequently, it utterly disrupts effective communication as efficiently as if we were trying to communicate in alien languages.  Take the issue of vaccines and vaccination for example.  The definition of vaccination has been expanded by purportedly authoritative state-sponsored sources to mean any form of injection designed to prevent the spread of a specific disease rather than the more specific and traditional definition involving use of infectious media in weakened form to develop antigen-specific antibodies that develop resistance to the invading diseases. 

With respect to Covid 19, many people have come to believe that most purported vaccines currently available introduce a reproductive RNAm variant into genes with the hope that the resulting mutation will generate resistance to the disease.  Many people who have carefully investigated the issue and who possess advanced and relevant education are highly suspicious of induced mutations based on their understanding from unpleasant experiences with the law of unintended consequences, that premature adoption of faddist trends and suggestions can prove disastrous.  Indeed, for many decades in the modern era, the idea of induced mutations has been anathema, although usually in conjunction with genetic experiments to improve the human race or to selectively pass on desirable traits such as those engaged in by the Nazis.  That ethical argument is complex and certainly not straightforward, and based as much on emotional reaction as it is on scientific grounds.  A great many of our customs, taboos, and social norms involve similar issues. 

More speculative opposition is based on a deep distrust of both governments and the capitalist economic model, suspecting them of diverse conspiracies designed to assure continuing control such as that prevalent in the 1948 Novel, Nineteen-eighty-four (1984) by George Orwell. One variant suspects that the mineral component of the current vaccines may, in the future, be used in combination with 5G (and beyond) communication technology to impact the way we think and act.  Conspiracy theories of one kind or another seem to impact most people today, in large part because labelling anything one opposes as a “conspiracy theory” does away with the need to seriously address the facts and hypotheses posited, and because it has become clear that many hypotheses labelled conspiracy theories in the past in fact may have been accurate, even things as purportedly far-out as unidentified flying objects.

Many thoughtful opponents of forced immediate vaccination take the issue much more seriously than its proponents, especially proponents who have been manipulated through propaganda-induced peer pressure by governments less interested in education and thoughtful discourse than in control and obedience and which operate in a decisional environment characterized by impunity when they are wrong, reinforced by manipulated narratives that blame others for their errors.  Many opponents merely want to wait until they have personally become more comfortable with what the current plethora of Covid vaccines involve and are suspicious of the frantic demand for action now that is so profitable for the pharmaceutical companies involved, all too many of which have, in the past as well as the present, manipulated health issues to pawn-off fraudulent products, or to make essential products available only at exorbitant prices.  Many proponents on the other hand are egocentrically risk averse unwilling to place themselves at risk through the inaction of others, and unwilling to try and understand the reasons for such inaction, attributing them only to ignorance or malice.  Empathy is in all too short supply and liberty and respect for opposing viewpoints are declining sharply in the Biden era where the use of censorship through denial of access to social media has become the norm.  That, of course, leads to more and more distrust for both government and the private institutions that make up our informational infrastructure.

Perhaps if there were real and serious consequences for errors in the area of governance and communication (as there were in ancient Greece and in the Roman Republic thousands of years ago) more people would have faith in the use of compulsive government power, power that always curtails liberty, purportedly in the interest of the “common good”.  But there are none.  Instead, we have the twin concepts of immunity for the consequences of governmental and judicial actions and impunity.  The same also applies to our corporate media.  No-cost errors, now, without even superficial apologies. 

Perhaps those that impose their will on others or provide distortive information should be indoctrinated into the Japanese practice of hara-kiri.  That would certainly cause the more prudent among them to think carefully before acting, and, of course, greatly reduce recidivism.  However, that turn of events is a virtual impossibility. 

Unfortunately, so is a mass information exchange system based on accuracy.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

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