Sunday, October 27, 2019

1984

George Orwell published 1984 in 1949. This used to be required reading in American public schools but I don't know if it still is. The society he writes about, which at the time may have seemed like pure fiction, is, in part, now reality and we may still get the full nightmare if we continue down this path. You'll have to read the book to understand what your life might be like if we allow these similarities to continue. Essentially, your thoughts are policed and you are constantly being watched by Big Brother. Life is dreary and you live in constant fear. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me upon re-reading it.
"It is deliberate policy to keep even the favored groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another."
Many people have a scarcity mindset today because they have been conditioned to fight others for a small piece of wealth and create an us vs. them mentality when in fact, the people you are fighting are in the same boat as you. I'm trying to find more people with an abundance mindset.
"Science, in the old sense, has almost ceased to exist... The empirical method of thought, on which all the scientific achievements of the past were founded, is opposed to the most fundamental principles of Ingsoc."
If we allow a society in which scientists and journalists are not trusted, it will be easier and easier to control what people think. There is already a large segment of the United States population and some in other countries who are told not to believe scientists and they can now be manipulated because they have become incapable of verifying information.
"If he were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies."
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
"...the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink."
I was on the Mall on inauguration day and saw with my own eyes that the crowd there for Trump did not fill the Mall back to the Washington monument as he said it did. Yet, media dedicated to spreading his lies published this lie. I could see in that moment that lies were being allowed to be published like fact and that many, many people would believe it even if someone told them the truth. They believe that black is white. We are then told to calm down when we get upset about this path our society is going down. Isn't this a big deal?
"To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies - all of this is indispensably necessary."
Those who fight vehemently against a woman's right to choose an abortion conveniently forget that there are millions of children who don't have their basic needs met, much less a loving and productive environment in which to blossom. These facts becomes inconvenient when they want to call themselves pro-life because the reality is they only fight for the lives of the unborn.

None of the reactions here are breaking news. Most of these situations have either been growing for awhile or they have happened in the last three years (has it only been three years? It feels like an eternity because it has represented such a major shift in our society).

Maybe more than any one particular issue like abortion or the environment, a belief in science and ethical journalism is the most important. We can't debate any other issue we may disagree on if we're not having the same conversation and words do not carry the same meaning for everyone in the conversation.
"There is no possibility that any perceptible change will happen within our own lifetime. We are the dead. Our only true life is in the future. We shall take part in it as handfuls of dust and splinters of bone."
I'm not sure if this is motivating or depressing but it serves as a reminder that doing work to make society better is valuable, even if you don't see the results you are striving for.

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