Spin vs Truth – EDITORIAL

Spin is everywhere today.  It is the selective distribution of specific details from a particular viewpoint.  Its aim is to influence others to adopt an opinion without any serious intellectual consideration. Originally “spin” was mainly used for those with an image to protect, those caught in embarrassing, integrity busting situations. The art of putting the best possible face on a bad situation. “Political” spin began as most important for those individuals in the highest political positions. Traditional public relations may sometimes rely on a “creative presentation” of the facts.  Spin however implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics in doing so.

Congressman Harry Reid’s great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889.

Here’s a classic account by Harry Reid’s staff, to spin the above history, as an example:Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad.

Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency.

In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed.”

History is spun to suit the agenda of those most in control, and those with the most to lose or gain in the distorted telling. On TV and radio, news distribution, and certainly political campaigns, deliberate words are crafted to begin the spin of our history of tomorrow. Spin control has been a part of recorded history since civilization’s historians first began to write its story. When you spin the present with daily repetition, you highly increase the odds the future will be shaped by it.

“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Media machine desperately tries to spin Bush’s claim that Weapons of Mass Destruction were found in Iraq

The goal of spin is to make your position on issues and events become a cliché that others will choose like dessert. It is the art of manipulating your thought. Some use it to play down expectations so that when they indeed are not met, no one notices. Similarly, when something major happens, it will come as no big surprise.

In our busy world, it is so easy to believe the “Spin’ rather than  investigate the complex details behind issues. We are bombarded by dozens of spin snippets each day, well composed and designed to point you in a direction. We catch a few key words or phrases from the media and then solidify our presumptive and subjective opinions as fact. We all resist being told the proper viewpoint, but when we feel we have come to our conclusions for ourselves, well,  that is the height of successful spin. Pagans as a group tend be readers, and I dare say, contemplate a lot. I can only hope the blatant ‘macro’ spin we encounter in reporting of world, national, and regional events will be intellectually sorted out by most Pagans in forming their opinion in regards to practical matters.

If we are to improve our society in the decades ahead we need to work diligently to reduce the government and corporate spin on crucial matters when communicating to the general population. We must eliminate the lies and failure to disclose material facts that matter to all of us. We must not let those that would conspire against the interests of the general population to gain influence and power. We must continue to search for, understand and teach the truth to future generations. We must challenge the fundamental assumptions of all organizations that attempt to lead and educate us, if there is a sound reason to believe they are not telling us the truth or rational alternatives for their own purpose. And if we learn new facts that fundamentally change our perspective on what is true we should not hesitate to reveal the new truth to everyone.”

Of larger concern to me is that the practice of spin has ‘trickled down’ into our personal lives. Unlike the mythical abundance promised by the economic spin of the Reagan years, this personal spin has had profound effects on our essence. Spin, from politics and government to ourselves, has become just plain lying. Spin was bad enough when it was the art of selective omission. Now spin has crept into our speaking habits, and into our daily personal interactions. Don’t believe it is that harmless “little white” lying we all do when we’re not being forthright. It is way deeper than an insincere compliment or fib about your upcoming schedule.

When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right.”     C.S. Lewis

“The problems we see in the world are really just manifestations of the fundamental problem within each of us: that nagging desire to ignore what we don’t like about ourselves in favor of placing the blame on others or the
nebulous “society” in which we live.

It is not enough we spin our own self assessment, but we use spin to attempt to manipulate others. There is even a term for it, “impression management”.  People have come to the point they will casually and directly lie about circumstances if it supports their personal agenda. We Pagans seem to rarely speak our minds directly to each other. We maintain civility in the Pagan community even in the face of outrages that if seen in the ‘public’ sphere, we would never tolerate with silence. Well spoken spin can be used for direct harm, and to divert attention from confronting real issues and actions, or the lack of action. When personal spin between us keeps us from holding each other accountable, and reinforces our shallow excuses, we all affirm that shallowness within us. Some have developed a form of spin which manages to pass itself off as sincere honesty to the unwary. This is the height of “impression management” and expertise in its delivery. Do we ignore the truths we internally ‘know’, when they are an obstacle to having our own way? In this dis-empowered society we need to feel that something is under control. Truth is something, no matter how you spin it, that is not under our control. To the honest spiritual seeker, Truth just is.  Make a resolution to embrace Truth.

Have a great New Year!

Nels Linde

Seek those who search the truth. Beware those who find it. —Unknown

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