Friday, August 26, 2011

A Conversation in Need of Having?

Words can, and often are, used as weapons. We have seen what happens when there is a call to arms, an incitement to war, a rousing speech from a dictator who condemns part of his own population, racial epithets and hate speech, an organized and violent response to bullying by classmates in schools.

When words are used as weapons, we are all down wind of an ecosystem in which we live, work and pursue leisure that is made toxic by the introduction of cynicism, greed and bullying of real people. Bullying is now epidemic and not just on playgrounds and classrooms. It is on the front pages of newspapers getting their material used to dismember live people in a public forum from hacking and other illegal means. It is in reality TV, "mock"umentaries, and "harmless" comedy routines.

Mention the first amendment and you ignite a "hot button" question or debate. the first amendment philosophy is essential to a democratic nations and peoples; free speech as a right is imperative to protecting the rights of people to speak out and be heard. In order to protect it however, free speech must necessarily include protection for propaganda, unethical and hate speech.
Journalism schools and outlets all have a code of ethics. But do they follow that code?

Is it ethical to present something as news, yet disseminate politically biased information? What about slander, libel and bullying or hate speech? Some countries do not allow for thorough protection or recource for those harmed by "free speech." And sometimes free speech harms or causes violence. What then?

What impact does 24 hour news cycle programming have on the veracity of material? What abour fact checking and retraction? What about opinon pieces or editorials masquerading as news? Is it permissible for journalists to give their personal opinions or conclusions? How do codes of ethics govern what is published?

Journalists and in particular, bloggers are not licensed nor held to formal standards and anybody can blog. How does that impact our world? What if a blog is really cyber-bullying intended to cause harm?

These are all issues that we are still in the process of sorting out and since everybody is downwind of the twenty-first century, what part of the responsibility falls to the consumer; what part falls to the creator? Do we need to have a discussion about the use of words, creative license, consumer responsibility, intent to harm, civility and compassion?

Are we creating a culture without compassion? What are we role modeling to youth? What are the children learning? Yes, they are watching.

A three part series on media that asks the tough questions that still need answers:

When the Empire Strikes Will the People Strike Back?

Shocking Secrets Revealed: Illegal Means Used to Carve Up Live Humans for Human Consumption

Power to the People Works When People Claim the Power
With Co-Author Matt Semino

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A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...