Monthly Archives: July 2018

This generation’s test – Lessons from Seneca Falls

 

We all know that each generation has its own test, the contemporaneous and current standard by which alone it can adequately judge of its own moral achievements, and that it may not legitimately use a previous and less vigorous test. The advanced test must indeed include that which has already been attained; but if it includes no more, we shall fail to go forward, thinking complacently that we have “arrived” when in reality we have not yet started ~Jane Addams

On July 19 and 20, 1848, some three hundred brave souls, supporters of a common cause, gathered in Seneca Falls, New York.  They shared a common cause, to affirm and eventually guarantee, the rights of women, including a woman’s right to vote.   The enormity of their challenge is matched only by the results of the progress they envisioned, sought, and ultimately achieved.

As we grapple with the challenges that face this democracy today we may lose hope, not to mention stamina.  Thinking about the Seneca Falls Convention may shed welcome light on these dark days.

To preserve and strengthen our democracy will demand nothing less than a movement of informed, committed American truth-seekers who care – and dare — to speak out, join forces and share energies towards a common purpose.

As always, we can draw strength and wisdom from those who have fought the good fight in the past.  A glimpse of the humble beginnings of the Nineteenth Amendment offers a sense of how a movement is born and how it grows with time and effort.  We may draw strength from a look back at the movement born at Seneca Falls some 170 years ago.

Some manageable starting points:

Previous posts related to ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.

 

 

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We the People deserve, depend on and demand truth

The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people~ Tom Clancy

Yesterday, as we Americans celebrated the Fourth of July 2018 we honored this nation’s tradition of giving a nod to the Forefathers, joining the community festivities and relaxing on our shared national observance of the truths “made evident” in the Declaration of Independence.  And yet, in these troubled times, many Americans eschew the festivities and stress out instead on the swamp-draining reality in which we are drowning….

As a fierce proponent for open government my thoughts inevitably turn to the fact that it was on July 4, 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act  https://foift.org/resources/freedom-information-act/– a factoid notably absent from public discourse, much less presidential proclamations…..

In truth, reflections on the passage of FOIA are fraught with pain for many.  We had such hope.  Skimming through the scores of FOI-related blog posts I’ve written In recent times (145 in total according to the omniscient system….)  I am appalled at the profound impact that changing times are having on the tone and focus of those posts.

Earlier posts honed in on information-seeking skills – “information literacy”, “critical thinking,” “information power” and related topics.  The onus was consistently on the seeker of truth, a truth that was presumed/assumed to be true……

Over time, particularly over the past year, emphasis of the posts is on the source of information – the eroding of truth, manipulation of the facts, “fake news” “alternative facts” and malevolent efforts to debunk the truth.

In relatively recent times Information has become a commodity to be manipulated, twisted, ultimately weaponized.  Essential data are missing because data are not collected – real facts are twisted to shape opinion – data are weaponized to influence discourse and decisions.  Clever forces, eager to seize the opportunities of information technology, have seized the power of information.  The result is a citizenry that is drowning in the misinformation/disinformation swamp.

As with all liars weaponizers of information depend on their victims to be hapless believers of alternative facts and innuendo.  They feed on weakness, fear, lack of confidence, devoid of critical thinking skills.

More than any time since our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence  We the People must exercise – flaunt – our independence by embracing our power.  Our mighty challenge is to hone the skills and exercise our power to  seek the truth.

Our challenge today is difficult and critical.   In this era of well-crafted lies we must strengthen in ourselves and in others the confidence that critical thinking demands.  The forefathers expected no less.   History demands that we rise to the occasion, that we reach out, affirm our values, hone the skills and the internal strength to resist – and eventually repel – distortion of truth and manipulation of a complicit citizenry

The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.    J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
See also this and other previous posts:  https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2018/03/05/putting-a-face-on-truth-seeking/