Amazon.com sold out of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 a few weeks ago. Amazon. Sold. Out. I couldn’t tell you how many copies of the popular (it’s often required reading for high school English classes) book Amazon had, but it can’t have been a small number.
For those of us who have read Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 years ago, the last few weeks have inspired a visceral reaction of horror and disbelief. What we are watching unfold in American politics is a scenario we’ve only been familiar with in the past through cautionary tales – dystopian novels that warn of the power of propaganda and information control or the very real cautionary tales of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, even modern day North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and his late father.
These cautionary tales are all very extreme (thus their gravity in warning). But there are many gradual steps along the way to the genocide of 6-11 million people. It often starts with a democratic rise to power. And then small adjustments to the truth. Perhaps a lie about the size of an inauguration crowd. And as these “alternative facts” build up and for every individual who is unwilling to fact-check and dismisses others calling out the lies as “sore losers” a propaganda machine gains strength.
Fights have been breaking out on social media since election season started and both sides are occasionally aided and fueled by half-truths or full on lies. This misinformation comes from well-meaning citizens and it comes from sharks just looking to make money off of clicks. In a time when access to information has quite literally NEVER been easier, we cannot be content to believe only the information that makes its way to us. We have to take our responsibility as voting citizens more seriously than that.
On every side of the aisle, on each coast and everywhere in between, we all have a grave burden to bear. And as Jesus once said, the truth will set you free, it is our only hope to be set free as a nation. We have to seek the truth.
And that means, even if something seems to confirm your preconceived notion and it feels good to share/say, you have a burden to prove it is true. To yourself and to others. How can we bridge a divide as large as we have in our country if we cannot at the very least agree on the objective reality in front of us?
The potential for a very dark path lays ahead of us. Exactly now is when we have the power to prevent disaster. But, we have to slow down and make sure our anger is justified. I personally believe there are many things that genuinely warrant outrage lately, but there are others that are the product of a jumpy, hyped progressive left, just like similar hyperbole has been coming from a disenfranchised conservative right. We kill our credibility with our fellow citizens when we get up in arms about issues that are not in fact outrageous.
For example, recently outrage was circulating social media regarding T__mp referring to Black History Month as African American History Month. People were up in arms, but when we look back several presidents in recent history had done this. This doesn’t invalidate concerns that he has been fiddling while racism grows hot in certain parts of America if not actively fanning those flames for his own gain. What it means, is that referring to Black History Month as African American History Month was not an example of that in play.
I truly believe that resistance to the current administration and their affect on our country and government is a just and worthy cause, but if we don’t put the truth above advancing our agenda we will lose. It’s that simple. We will lose the trust of our fellow Americans; even those guilty of the exact same behavior will use it as an excuse to ignore our message. And we simply cannot afford that.
The fabric of Indivisible is fraying and at risk. We must do everything in our power to move forward together in truth and justice. These are the American values we all hold.