Saturday, August 16, 2008

Making Things BIGGER or smaller by Louis Evan Palmer

Their job, self-appointed or paid for, is to make us see a mountain when we're looking at a molehill and, alternately, to make us see a molehill when we're looking at a mountain. By controlling what we perceive and telling us what we perceive, they will control what we think and feel and from that, how we'll act.

How we see things is both an art and a science. There are the organs of perception. There are various aids that we have constructed to help us perceive - to see farther than we could otherwise, to hear more, to see smaller things, to detect elements and energies. Microscopes. Telescopes. Spectrometers.

There is also the psychological aspect of perception, in that, we perceive what we're conditioned to perceive; we unconsciously blind and deafen and otherwise insensate ourselves either individually or collectively to what is outside the realm of the expected.

We rarely perceive things as they are; if there is that as a real condition - "as they are"? We see them as larger or smaller or much larger or much smaller or vast or invisible. We also colour everything with our judgements and opinions and attendant feelings and thoughts.

Agendas are also in play in determining what we perceive and what it means and how important it is or how important it should be. The list of groups with claims is long, heavy with organizations (both conceptual and real) that typically comprise 1,2 or 3% of something. Small groups, vanguards whether they know it or not, whether they consider themselves as such.

Two examples: This comes into view when we look at the claims as to how many homosexuals there are in any given country. The long-standing claim was 10%; the recent census in the US has it as not far past 1%. It's important to that group to have as big a number as possible to support rights and protections that accrue more easily to a larger group. But exaggeration is eventually uncovered and may generate substantial negative feedback.

This is also on display when discussing something like the porn industry. Those in it like to claim it's vast, even that it's mainstream and it shouldn't be harassed. The US apparently produces well over 90% of the world's porn using something like 20,000 persons mainly in southern California. As a percentage of the US population, that's 0.000067 %. It may seem like porn is everywhere and everyone but it's only employing 1 person out of 15,000.

What these and other groups use to increase the impact they make on society are various types of amplification. The main type of amplification being the mass media. The mass media is a very powerful amplification tool which is why it's used extensively for propaganda and advertising. Another method of amplification is the law. If you can influence what laws are made or how they're argued or interpreted, you can amplify your opinion because you can call into its service the full force of a society.

The opposite force, minimization,occurs when groups or issues are ignored and not reported; occasionally, it's achieved by trivializing or marginalizing a group or issue. Burying it in an avalanche of other information is another way to undermine its impact.

Societal norms are the measuring stick we use when deciding what's allowable in our public and semi-public forums. In the courts, it's a moving measure and it's typically not measured very well. In the cases where the media is involved, the people who have a big effect on societal norms are the same ones who are supplying and interpreting them. Why should the public give any extra access to industries that comprise 0.000067% of the population? Coincidentally, this percentage would also apply to the very rich.

We need to take control back of our own societies. We need to be able to establish what is proper and permissible in public forums and who should have access and what controls should be permitted. Otherwise we're going to lose our public forums to small and various groups who are more aggressive and energetic in their advocacies and stakes but who represent minorities. The usurpation of the public forum should be stopped. It shouldn't be a democracy of the loudest or the most litigious. No more of the tail wagging the dog.

MAKING THINGS BIGGER OR SMALLER, Louis Evan Palmer, The Wat It Can Be,
Copyright 2008 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


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