Harsh truth or anodyne truth-lite?

Individuals can always spin things any way they please, since many things are strictly matters of taste and preference.   One is urged to accentuate the positive, be cheerful, not dwell on depressing or painful things!   When times are tough, look forward to a fabulous holiday, a great meal at a fantastic new restaurant, a cool new car, the pleasures a life of hard work can provide.

The same story can be told in many ways, even by readers of the same newspaper.  In one story, we are facing the worldwide march of triumphalist fascism as our habitat is being quickly boiled into a toxic miasma.  In that story, our moral obligation, if we are not fascists or those who profit from the destruction of our biosphere, is to do everything we can to avoid this awful fate for every living creature on the planet. 

The story can be told with a different emphasis: radical alarmists alarming people to advance their radical agenda.  Sure there are some bad, dishonest politicians here and there, even evil ones, sure some countries execute drug addicts, and gays, force raped girls to give birth to their rapists’ baby, commit modest genocides, sell off the rain forests that are the lungs of the planet to corporations that will bulldoze the trees to graze animals for slaughter, but there are also people doing wonderful things and life is beautiful.  Actually, it’s the radical alarmists who are alarming everybody!

The attitude behind this second version of the story is that it’s better to believe that everything is going to be fine and what we are seeing all around us its not really as bad as it looks.   I believe this myself, but not to the extent of denying we’ll have fascism shortly unless we prevent Republicans, who already have a nakedly partisan 6-3 Supreme Court (the last three chosen strictly for their extreme partisan cred) from capturing one or both houses of Congress.  In fact, unless we pick up a Manchin-proof majority in the Senate, we’re heading straight over the filibuster waterfall to the fascism of a heavily armed one party theocracy.  

Fascists don’t care about saving the environment or anything else that humanists, or humans, consider important.  Fascists care about only triumph and dominating their hated enemies.   Fascism is the harnessing of the human tic to go to war in a rage, making that lowest impulse the iron law of the land.

Calling Republican office holders and candidates fascists just because they promote what they all know is a destructive lie, in the interest of regaining absolute one-party control of everything, may seem hyperbolic to some.  Consider:  if you repeat a lie that makes people angry, and those angry people form a violent lynch mob that maims and kills people, and afterwards you defend that lynch mob’s right to try to kill people they believe betrayed them, and you are required not to break the party-line wall defending the lie and the mob, and you vote in a bloc to hurt your political opponents, who you vilify, and leave every problem to get worse so that you profit politically, is there a more accurate word than “fascist” to describe you?

Mel Brooks has a genius definition of comedy and tragedy that rings so true it hurts.   “Tragedy is when I break a fingernail.  Comedy is when you fall into a manhole and die.”   A slapstick sight gag vs. actual personal suffering, no matter how minor.

How you view and tell the story is determined by your personal experience and your emotional needs.   Humans can always find an anodyne truth-lite way of spinning stories that would otherwise terrify them.  Just ACC-cen-tuate the positive!

The positive, to me, is truth, honesty.  If you are talking about what really happened, as opposed to what you want to believe happened, we can discuss anything you like.  Nothing is out of bounds, nothing can’t be solved, if we agree on the facts of what we are talking about.  If you insist on an anodyne version that lets culpable parties off the hook, that makes you feel better — at the expense of reality — that’s your wonderful belief and God bless.   Just don’t try to insist on that bullshit to someone like me.

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