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Ray Bates: Falsehoods and conspiracy theories will lead to our day of reckoning

Why are there so many visibly angry persons within Canada and elsewhere? Most people occasionally get upset; it is human nature, but not to the extent that we are witnessing during these turbulent times.

One only has to view cable news, go online, or wander onto other “supposedly-truthful” news sources and one will soon come upon an opinion being stated. It then becomes our prerogative to decide to believe that statement — or not. (Example: President Biden won the 2020 presidential election in the USA. Millions of people vehemently believe Biden did not win; they are convinced that the presidency was stolen from Trump. Who is being truthful?)

Everyone sometimes lies; some more than others. The onus is upon us to decide what are the accurate facts. In these times of fake news, conspiracy theories, political misinformation, cyberspace untruths or businesses’ commercial goals; we need to question almost all that we are being presented. The harsh reality is that false narratives are intended to stir our quicker-to-react emotions rather than our slower-to-engage intellects.

The minister of propaganda for the Nazi German government of the Third Reich, Joseph Goebbels, knew the consequences of repeating falsehoods. Goebbels believed “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Propaganda machines are notorious for presenting misinformation to gullible recipients for the advancement of a cause and/or retention of power.

When we fast-forward past the horrific events of the 1930’s and 40’s to our present, we encounter common practices of the lie-philosophies too frequently, appearing within areas such as political organizations, corporate activities, race-related topics, diversity concerns and religious beliefs.

As we move further into the 21st century I believe that more people will have increased financial and psychological worries, hence the levels of anger will swell. People are being left behind economically and subjected to inequalities which are fueling expanded resentments. When segments of our society are being mistreated or perceived as being dangerous, the consequences of such ill regard for others becomes a surefire formula for fear, anger and societal upheavals.

People need — and expect to have — safe communities, nutritious food, suitable essential services, sufficient health care, appropriate educational opportunities and adequate incomes, along with efficient infrastructure sectors such as sewers, water, highways and community developments. Those expectations, when lumped together, appear highly challenging, but when taken in manageable portions and worked upon by their stakeholders in a spirit of compromise and enhanced by transparent, constructive and truthful discussions; I firmly believe that the levels of anger will dissipate.

The qualities of our governments are also causing resentments; people expect elected politicians to give us the care and protection that we have been led to assume will be available and for which we have contributed tax dollars. I am not naive to believe that all governments are perfect, quite the contrary; I have seen too many poor governments but as the saying goes: “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

The one certainty that I have come to believe is that when something or someone is being demonized or promoted as the greatest ever, then that subject should be challenged for its dishonesty. What we emphatically must guard against are the deceits, the lies that are so prevalent.

The dark underworld of falsehoods and conspiracies needs to be challenged with reasoned arguments. If we accept all the information that we are being fed as being factual and cease to examine its source or intent, I fear that our mutual day of reckoning looms large with unimaginable consequences. 

Ray Bates, Guysborough (Sedabooktook: harbour running far back), a former school principal and Nova Scotia Community College Truro Campus faculty member (Ret’d), has been contributing his opinions to newspapers since 1998. raybates@eastlink.ca

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One Comment

  1. Well said. The opioid to neo-Nazi venom in this country, or anywhere around the world, is not found in silence. We must challenge those far-right, distorted messages, abundant lies and contrived stories every step of the way.

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