politics

Propaganda Dispersal System vs Critical Thinking

This is intended as reminder for those of us who forget to use it, for whatever reason – I do include myself in this – and a primer for those who haven’t had the opportunity to learn it, for whatever reason.

“Critical thinking skills truly matter”

Our social media culture of “like, copy, share” has turned many of us, again, myself included, into cogs of the Propaganda Dispersal System (PDS).

Much of what passes in front of our eyes, through our FB news feeds and notifications lists, (as well as other places we like to hang out on the internet), regarding governmental, justice, social, and environmental issues, is both product and fuel of the PDS.

The facts are often true‚Ķexcept for a detail or two. There are frequent omissions or additions. Language is used in a way to slant and hook our emotions. This is why the term “click bait” exists.

If you know anything about fishing, the following may be helpful:

Fisherman = person/organization that wants our attention in the form of votes, money, and/or time.

Fish = us. Every single one of us is a target with thousands of goods, services, products, political parties, activist organizations, public and private institutions  ALL wanting our votes, money, and/or time.

Hook & bait = carefully crafted words, images, and videos designed to bypass the rational and analytical parts of our brains and hook into our emotions.

This is where fishing analogy ends and the virus one begins:


How many times have you heard the phrase, “it’s gone viral”?

Once our emotions are hooked, we then become carriers of the propaganda virus. Even the most educated and rational person can and does “catch the virus.” We all have some things we’re immune to. Things we can bypass without a thought or regret. However, all of us also have those things we’re almost always susceptible to. Again, this also applies to the well and over-educated, because we’re humans.

After that happens, we’re the carriers, propaganda is the virus, and social media is the transmission system. We get hooked by whatever powerful emotion the information in words and images and how it has been presented trigger in us. Then, we copy and share it so the people on our friend lists will see it and react. And the next cycle begins.

It has taken longer for you to read this than it frequently takes for the entire cycle to happen.

A headline. A meme. A 30-60 second video. ūüĎć‚̧ԳŹūüėģūüė•ūüė° & share. Scroll and repeat.

If we will stop and take the time ask the questions in this chart, we can break ourselves free from the Propaganda Dispersal System.

Outraged and sad. We’ve GOT to be better than this! An appeal to my co-citizen’s of the USA who claim the name of Jesus

I feel absolutely sick with outrage and grief! A dear, sweet friend of mine just shared something that was such complete, racist, political propaganda. It made me think of all the various things that have been perpetuated in the name of nationalism and religion which have combined to separate, segregate, distract, destroy, and manipulate us throughout our country’s short and volatile history; especially since the beginning of the 20th century and advancements in media technology.

The United States of America is the only nation on our planet whose political, religious, and ideological foundations were established with human equality, religious freedom, and social justice at the core. Any person whose genetic material is anything other than 100% Native American, is the product of immigration – forced or voluntary. The economic and material infrastructure from the founding of the colonies to the Declaration of Independence through the Western Expansion on forward, has come from the industry, innovation, and inspiration of people who originated from other continents and countries with varied and diverse religious beliefs and political ideologies.

The propaganda machines have always been hard at work, from before the onset of the printing press and have yet to stop.

WW I & WW II brought the vilification and demonization of Germanic, Eastern European, and Asiatic people. All of these prejudices pre-dated those “Great Wars” and have never gone away. Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War were evidence of that. We expanded our prejudices into the Middle East nations and peoples through the Iran Hostage Crisis through Iran-Contra into the Gulf Wars on up to this present day.

Now, on the basis of land of origin, the shades of skin melatonin, and linguistic differences in names we have become like a rabid animal turning on itself and we perpetuate prejudice without rational thought or reason based in actual facts.

The following list of people is being passed around and being called “foxes in the henhouse” because of their political positions and affiliations with the Obama Administration and the facts of their national and religious heritage and systems being “other” than North American, Western Judeo-Christian.

Arif Alikhan – Assistant Secretary for Policy Development
for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Mohammed Elibiary – Homeland Security Adviser
Rashad Hussain – Special Envoy to the
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
Salam al-Marayati – Obama Adviser and
founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council
and is its current executive director
Imam Mohamed Magid – Obama’s Sharia Czar from
the Islamic Society of North America
Eboo Patel – Advisory Council on Faith-Based
Neighborhood Partnerships

I don’t know that none of these people are without hidden agendas to eradicate and subsume The American Way. However, the propaganda document containing the list fails to offer any facts or evidence of wrong doing and sinister intention beyond names, titles, and affiliations. It rings of 21st Century McCarthyism. Furthermore, it uses language which objectifies and dismisses anyone not in immediate agreement in judgmentally broad strokes by characterizing them as uncaring, unconcerned, and unconscious idiots.

It is essentially a call to action for us villagers to storm Frankenstein’s castle in fury based in fear to do away with the monster and his creator. It is an appeal designed to bypass the rational mind of reasoned thought and activate the animalistic fight or flight instinct of fear-based action.

The worse problem, in my estimation, is that the very people who promote and pass this along are the same people who profess to believe in an empathetic and compassionate God of grace, mercy, and sacrificial love. They share inspirational images, quotes, and words espousing the fruits, gifts, and virtues of the spirit in the our Christian belief system:

20130804-120101.jpg
FRUITS
Love
Joy
Peace
Forbearance
Kindness
Goodness
Faithfulness
Gentleness
Self-control

20130804-121122.jpg
GIFTS
Wisdom
Understanding
Counsel (right judgment)
Fortitude (courage)
Knowledge
Piety (reverence)
Fear (wonder and awe) of The Lord

20130804-122007.jpg
VIRTUES
Chastity
Temperance
Charity
Diligence
Patience
Kindness
Humility

These messages are negated and diminished when interspersed with propaganda spreading fear, mistrust, prejudice, and hate.

It saddens me to see good-hearted, sincere, caring, and loving people who whole-heartedly believe in and desire to live according to these beliefs and values unwittingly allow themselves to be used to do what they consider the work of the enemy of God and goodness.

Litigiousness, fear, and losing our voice

Last week all three teaching staff in my daughter’s Early Head Start classroom were absent. ¬†I had assumed that they were possibly attending a training or some other work related program. ¬†When I questioned the lead teacher replacement, she stated that she didn’t know anything other than they were not in the classroom. ¬†She seemed very stressed and uncomfortable whenever she was questioned. ¬†This caused me a little bit of concern, but since I was familiar with her and the other subs in the room, I just let it go.

On Sunday I received a call from another parent who believed that all three staff had been terminated or placed on some kind of administrative leave and were not going to be allowed to return or attend and participate in the Transition/Graduation Ceremony they had been helping our children prepare for.  She informed me that there was a public Policy Council meeting taking place last night and asked me to be there with her, so that we could possibly get answers and express our concerns regarding the impact on our children.  Yesterday, she contacted me again to verify that I would be there and indicated that she felt that some of the administration were trying to intimidate and discourage the parents from participating.  She also requested I bring a letter, which is what I wrote as my blog entry for yesterday.

Attending the Policy Council meeting was an interesting experience.  One that I wish I had taken advantage of before and may engage in, if my daughter is able to continue and transition into the Head Start program in the future.  One of the most interesting things the response of the Director of the Head Start Program when asked by a Board Member regarding the possibility of finding creative ways to provide services to community members in need who are not currently being served.

He stated that the federal agency in charge of overseeing the program nationally has a very punitive response when programs don’t stick strictly to the established guidelines and protocols. ¬†Which means loss of funding. ¬†In a punitive atmosphere taking risks and being creative in exploring solutions and ways to serve the needs of the community decreases. ¬†Therefore, there are no current plans in place to address the needs of those not currently being served due to questions of program eligibility.

This discussion took place during the course of the three hours of agenda items regarding audits, budgets, strategic planning, program self-assessments, and program reports while we were waiting for the Personnel agenda item to be addressed.  Personnel was actually the first agenda item on the list, but got pushed back because when the meeting began there was not a Quorum of Policy Council members present to vote on the action items, even though the meeting began 15 Р20 minutes late.  Within less than five minutes of that declaration the remaining numbers to reach quorum arrived.

When Personnel was finally up, a disclaimer was stated that only those who were part of the Personnel Committee had knowledge of the details and that legally they were not able to discuss any of the details outside of the context of their committee meeting.  To do so would open them as individuals and the organization up to lawsuits and negative legal ramifications.

So we sat through the voting.

Only one of the teaching staff who had been absent had her name brought up and voted on.  The vote carried through her termination.  Some of the other voting seemed to indicate that personnel to replace all three staff were being put in place.

Once the voting was finished, we attempted to voice our concerns and advocate for the staff.  At that point, we were shut down and instructed to not speak any further until we had met with and voiced those concerns to the Program Director of the Early Head Start Program and that bringing those concerns to air in front of the Board and Policy Council in an open public meeting would open us up to negative legal ramifications and potential lawsuits.

I didn’t pay attention enough to the early civics lessons of Schoolhouse Rock and what was taught in the elementary schools I attended. ¬†By the time I was in High School and made my attempts to complete a College education, I was so caught up in surviving the day to day realities of having been a low-income, teen, single, welfare mom, that I didn’t think about, engage in, or understand the ramifications of judicial decisions and creating laws and rules through litigation, and did my best to ignore and avoid political involvement and discourse.

I look around me now and see the changes that have taken place in our country over the past two decades, while I was too busy being overwhelmed with surviving my circumstances and cycling through the depression, fibromyalgia, and relationship problems in my life and realize that there are way too many of us who have lost our voice because we didn’t use it while others increased the power of litigation and now use fear of litigation to silence us.

No longer is it a question if rationality, morality, truth, and justice will be the determining values and priorities when making key decisions: political, organizational, or personal. ¬†Now the question is, “How much will it cost in terms of time and money if this issue is taken to court?” ¬†So, the perception and fear that someone might, possibly sue an individual or organization becomes the determining factor in whether we get to exercise our freedom of speech.

We have lost and continue to lose our voice to the fear of litigation.

Letter of Protest to Early Head Start

To Whom It Concerns:

This letter is in response to the news that all three teachers in my daughter’s Early Head Start (EHS) class were fired at the same time, without notice of any kind provided to the parents, either prior to the decision being made or afterward. ¬†The fact that this occurred with only three weeks remaining in the program year and the children in that classroom being prepared to transition out of the EHS program, has created an atmosphere of stress, anxiety, and lack of confidence in the children, parents, and quite possibly the remaining staff

Mission Statement

To comprehensively serve children and families providing child growth and development services and education to strengthen and enhance the abilities of children and their families to successfully function in our national and international environment.


We continually focus on developing highly trained, caring, . . . staff.

In the two years that my daughter has been enrolled in the program her primary teacher has been J.C..  Over that period of time I, and many other parents, have developed a rapport with J.C., which has been facilitated by her willingness to communicate and discuss the issues and needs of the children in her care.  I recently approached J.C. regarding some behavioral concerns regarding my child.  At that point she shared that she was beginning to have the same concerns.  As a result of that conversation, I initiated sessions with the school psychologist assigned to the classroom and she has done some classroom observations and has placed my daughter on a Behavioral Support Plan, to help her successfully and effectively interact with the teachers and other students in the classroom in constructive ways.  That same conversation resulted in a referral for an assessment by the PPS Early Intervention Program, which will not be possible until September, after the new program year begins and my daughter is no longer in the classroom.

J.C. has consistently demonstrated that she is knowledgeable, caring, and dedicated to the children in her care.  She has also been seeking continuing education in the Human Development field, which enhances her skills and knowledge when working with our children.

There was already a previous disruption in the caregivers assigned to the classroom a few months ago when, again without warning, one of the assistant teachers was moved into another classroom in the building directly across the hall, where the children who had grown accustomed to her would no longer have access to her and a new person with a completely different care giving style was placed into the classroom without introduction or allowing the children an opportunity to transition.

While I understand there may be “business and budgetary” issues and concerns that may necessitate changes in staffing, it does not meet the Mission Statement of serving the children and their families to completely rearrange their care giving staff in such a summarily disruptive manner. ¬†As far as I am concerned, the only acceptable reason to have done so, would have been if, and only if, there had been actions and behavior of the staff in question that endangered the children in their care. ¬†In which case, the parents would of legal and moral necessity have to have been notified of the inciting incident.

As a result of this ill conceived decision on the part of management, my child, as well as other children who have been affected, is experiencing increased separation anxiety when I drop her off at school.  It is also my understanding that some of the disruptive and challenging behaviors that were being effectively addressed with the Behavior Support Plan, are regressing and increasing.

It is my sincere desire and wish that Grayce and the other staff be reinstated to the classroom and if that is not allowed, that they be invited and allowed to attend the Transition Program they were working so hard to help the children prepare for and allow the children an opportunity to say goodbye to care givers they have come to trust and love.

Best regards,

Character: Perseverance, loyalty, and self

How do we know that we are taking the wrong path? ¬†Is it because others tell us? Is it because the things we experience on the path are painful and feel wrong? Is it because it doesn’t fit in with what is being advocated by the majority of society? ¬†How do we resolve the conflicts between doing that which we believe to be the right thing even when it seems to have negative or disastrous consequences? ¬†I have been on what many consider to be the wrong path for over 16 years in my relationship with Jerry.

Jerry is a very difficult man. ¬†He has a lot of insecurities and easily takes offense. ¬†He often feels marginalized and rejected because his intelligence is considered to be less than, especially by those who easily navigate the rules of grammar and understand the systemic relationships of cause and effect. ¬†He is easily frustrated by things that don’t work as they should or when things don’t meet expectations. ¬†He is five years older than me, but emotionally and psychologically speaking he frequently presents as much younger. ¬†He has difficulty letting go of past events and how they made him feel about himself and his ability to be in relationships. ¬†His love for me and our children, often seems to be more about him feeling loved and accepted, than it is about displaying love and acceptance of us. ¬†He is quite needy and clingy ~ not wanting to go places and do things by himself and feeling personally rejected if I’m not up to doing something with him. ¬†Conversely, he’s also a bit unavailable and unapproachable emotionally. ¬†Ultimately, he wants to be loved and accepted unconditionally, but has difficulty loving and accepting others without condition.

Early on in our relationship, his issues collided with my issues and we would have epic arguments over many subjects and situations. ¬†Power and control issues abounded between us, especially with me being a single mom of two young children. ¬†However, his devotion to all three of us and his desire to be in relationship with us and work through the problems, gave me something to believe in. ¬†He wanted to be a good provider, he wanted to be a father, and he wanted to be a good person. ¬†His impulse control and anger management issues affected us all, and he did his best to deal with them. ¬†He participated in the various classes, therapy and group counseling sessions I asked of him. ¬†We met with pastors and therapists alike. ¬†He showed up and did his best to grow and change. ¬†Sadly, it wasn’t enough and we still had our cycles of conflict that, at times, bordered on and presented as domestic violence.

The thing is, it wasn’t just Jerry’s issues. ¬†I was manipulative, controlling, belittling, and oh so certain that I was right and he was wrong. ¬†I was emotionally detached in the affection department, but more than capable of using my rationality to fire him up and get him going. ¬†I was not without fault in our mutually destructive chaos. ¬†In the era of Domestic Violence Awareness and Intolerance, he appeared as the villain and I as the victim. ¬†That’s what my kids were taught in schools and on television. ¬†It’s the message I got when seeking help for our family. ¬†Because I had learned how to say the right things, take the correct steps, and put on the accepted mask, he became the scapegoat for the problems in our lives.

I would get so overwhelmed with my depression and anxiety, pick a fight with Jerry, usually over my kids, and push every button he had, until I had a reason and excuse to bail. ¬†Then I would seek “help.” ¬†A few days, weeks, or months would pass. ¬†I would cycle through the depression and jump through the hoops, until I was more stable. ¬†Mind you, none of this was conscious on my part, I’m just beginning to understand and recognize certain things about myself. ¬†In that process I would be presented with questionnaires and opportunities to identify Jerry as an abuser. ¬†Some of the things fit, many of them didn’t. ¬†If I was being honest with myself, I couldn’t and didn’t check the boxes that would label him as an abuser and me as a victim, because I realized and believed that part of what makes an abuser is motivation and intent. So, I would open back up to him and let him back into my life.

Society told my kids and me that this was all part of the cycle of abuse and that I was a victim of domestic violence.  So, my kids grew to see me as weak minded and weak willed.  They grew to believe that I cared more for him than for them or for myself.

The thing is a true abuser and perpetrator of domestic violence doesn’t stop or improve, except for brief periods in the cycle, as part of the honeymoon/grooming period to regain the trust and soothe their victim into a false sense of security. ¬†The perpetrator will not ever even pretend to acknowledge that there is anything wrong with him, it’s always someone else’s fault or because of external influences. ¬†The cycle continues until severe, sometimes irreparable or fatal harm is done. ¬†The victim is never able to individuate and choose for herself. ¬†This is not how the relationship I have with Jerry has grown.

Let me tell you something about Jerry, he is devoted to us. ¬†He desperately wants a better relationship with my kids, Marco and LaLa. ¬†He’s determined that our daughter, Luna, will grow up knowing she is loved and valued. ¬†He may not have wanted to hear me when I have told him some hard truths about his role in our relationship and in our kids’ lives, but he did eventually listen. ¬†When he is hurtful, emotionally speaking, he does listen and will, at some point, accept responsibility for his actions in the incident. ¬†It may be slow going and hard won, but it does get there eventually.

According to so much of the “happiness” literature and bumper sticker quotes out there, I should drop Jerry from my life. ¬†After all, he’s not a happy go lucky fella and he tends to require more than a little patience, understanding, and handling. ¬†He falls too easily on the religio-political bandwagon and has a tendency to get just a little brainwashed by the conspiracy theorists and end-time prophecies. ¬†He’s socially awkward and knows how to dampen the mood without even trying, just by being himself. ¬†According to all the feel good about yourself and strive to life a better life mantras out there, I should drop him like a hot potato and I should never have let him back into our lives in the first place. ¬†Tsk, tsk, tsk, shame on you mom.

Jerry is the first and only man to persevere in my life. ¬†He was the first to believe in and support me. ¬†He’s tried to encourage me. ¬†He has tried to provide and be there for children who’s biological fathers abandoned them or failed to make the effort to be involved in their lives. ¬†In his pursuit of doing what was right, he got it wrong in a lot of ways, and still is. ¬†But he’s still showing up and making the effort. ¬†Yes, he makes it hard to love him a lot of the time, but love is more than a feeling ~ it’s action, choice, decision, and effort. ¬†I’m not the easiest person in the world either. ¬†Happiness and being happy are not things that are easy for me. ¬†If you look up angst ridden in the dictionary, my picture would be there, if I allowed a picture to be taken. ¬†My life wouldn’t necessarily be any happier or better if Jerry weren’t in it.

So, I persevere in my journey of self, determined that I am going to continue to work on my relationships with all the people I love and help them to understand that I’m not willing to write any one of them out of my story because they or I are difficult people. ¬†This is the path I have chosen and I cannot believe it is wrong.

“Too stupid to understand science? TRY RELIGION!”

I can certainly grasp why there are many people who have been turned off of Christianity specifically and religion in general because of the vociferous actions, religious abuse and bullying of many self-proclaimed Christians, who may or may not be TRUE BELIEVERS.¬† I once saw a bumper sticker that summed up the dilemma perfectly, “Jesus, save me from your followers.”

I identify myself as a Christian, but prefer to find alternate ways of explaining my faith.¬† I cringe and want to disassociate from those who claim the name while displaying bigoted and intolerant views toward people who don’t believe in the same doctrine or have the same understanding of what it means to be Christian as they.¬† It is not my job to point out the defects, faults, and limitations of others, according to my understanding of God.¬† I have plenty of my own issues I’m still working through and discovering.¬† Before I can attempt to remove the speck from another, I have planks of my own to deal with.

That being said, I make it a general practice to avoid arguing with someone who actively disagrees and/or despises my faith.¬† I have enough stress and drama in my life and, since I am continuing to work and grow in my own faith and understanding of God, it isn’t a constructive use of my time or energy.¬† It also tends to be counterproductive in reflecting God’s love in the world.¬† Unfortunately, occasionally, I will get sucked into it.¬† Today was one of those days.

A distant relative of my father’s (who I’ve never actually met and didn’t know existed until 2010) and I are “friends” on facebook.¬† Since most of his posts are in a language I have very limited experience in, I tend to let them float on by in the news stream.¬† Today, though, he posted a picture with the statement at the top of this page, “Too stupid to understand science? TRY RELIGION!”

BOOM! . . . I went there.¬† Here’s what followed:

  • ME:¬†¬† I think that there are people of reason and logic who also hold a personal faith and belief system many would consider religious. Therefore, just as it is unconscionable for those who ascribe to a specific belief system to denigrate and discount those who don’t share in those beliefs, the same is true for people who believe differently from me to insinuate and judge my intellectual capacity because I hold to a personal faith
  • Him: ¬†interesting, so… do u belive in evolution or creation? choose one ūüėČ
  • ¬†ME: I don’t believe they are mutually exclusive. Original creation has evolved, devolved, and transitioned over the years. My personal belief is that after we all end our time on this earth, everyone will discover how true, false, right and wrong our beliefs have been and that no one individual, group, organization, church, religion, or belief system is infallible or big enough to encompass Truth.
  • ¬†Him: I can give u the true right now if u want so u can stop wasting ur time, money and life in church o any other building and start livin’ ur life without fear now not when u end ur time in earth, here we go: there is not cosmic jewish zombie who can make u live forever if u symbollicaly eat his flesh and drink his blood and telephatically tell him that u accept him as ur master so he can remove the evil force from ur soul that is present in you cuz a rib woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree, u r welkome ūüėČ
  • ME:¬† Well, if that was what I believed in and what I was doing, I might gratefully accept your edification and illumination on the fallacy of those beliefs. I appreciate your concern and caring efforts to offer me your understanding of truth.

¬†That was it.¬† He “liked” my comments and that’s all there was to it.

I think it bothers me that there are many educated, rational, and generally tolerant people who turn into irrational, intolerant bigots themselves when confronted with the question of religion, faith, and spirituality.  They are offended, angry, and disgusted by the so-called faithful who spread messages of hate and intolerance, yet they have no qualms about spreading such messages themselves in response.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to waste a lot of energy and time going down this particular rabbit hole, it was just something for me to think on for a little while.¬† On a side note: The snarky part of me really wanted to point out the lack of intelligence suggested by the complete disregard of spelling, punctuation or grammar and to suggest that if one is going to insult the intellectual capabilities of a group of people, then one should avoid doing so in such an illiterate manner.