All About This New Category: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

I’ve been toying with the idea of creating this section for some time now. My blog is mostly about personal stuff. It is not surprising that my writings tend to dwell on life, death, and trying to deal with existence. I like to ponder about possibilities. But I also have this habit of reading about the affairs of the world.

Three years ago, I’ve taken a particular interest on the Syrian Civil War. As a Filipino, my knowledge about the Middle East is quite limited. History was not my favorite subject, at least not when I was at school. I’ve heard tidbits from my mother who worked as a domestic helper more than three decades ago; first in Kuwait, to a wonderful family who treated her like their own. Her stories about this family were told many times during my childhood that it feels like I knew them. My mom has a box full of photographs of the three children she looked after.

She told me about their everyday life there – how the youngest loved to fall asleep next to her, how they love spicy food, how they spend the coldest part of the year, how she has to record the football matches so the male employer can watch it after work, how the wife told her about Muslims and Christians having them same God but calling Him in different names. My favorite bit is about the overseas trip they took where they brought my mother along. They drove through Iraq. One time, they got lost and ended up in a restricted section where Iraqi border guards confronted the patriarch of the family. It was a good thing that they got away with a small admonishment only. They dropped by Syria where Baba (that’s what my mom call the male employer) was going to meet a family friend who is a Christian Syrian. They stayed at Damascus for the night. When the Christian man learned that my mother is also of the same faith, he prepared a special meal for her – something that she has not tasted for a long time since she started working. My mother’s favorite memory was that in Sofia, Bulgaria. But that’s for another story.

Anyway, my mother stayed with them for three years. They hated to see her go. The children took it the hardest. But she had to. It was the build-up of the Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Mama, the female employer, made my mother promise that she will go back once the war is over. But sadly, it never happened. My mother was sent to Saudi Arabia instead of Kuwait when she applied again. This time, she had problems with her employers and she faked an illness in order to be sent back to the Philippines after three months.

My mother’s stories never got me curious enough in order to discover and learn more about that volatile part of the globe. And neither did my history teachers who were too textbook-driven that history classes were never interesting. My college years opened my eyes to this subject. I think I’ve taken three history courses, two of them about Asian history. As a trademark of The University of the Philippines, we were not taught to swallow everything handed to us. Instead, we were encouraged to think outside the box, to question everything. My major classes draw my eyes into the role played by media in shaping reality. We learn all about agenda setting and many other mass communication theories. Information is a powerful tool. The one who controls it can control an entire population.

So what has all of this got to do with my interest on the Middle East affairs? Well, I read the news more often than before these days. They are splashed in every online newspaper’s home pages. In 2012, the mass hysteria from the Western press about the Syrian Civil War was hard to miss. They publish article after article about the evil dictator, Assad. I was surprised to find that the media can be blatantly biased. They were the last ones I expect to beat the drums of war. I guess I expected too much from them.

It is good to note that the free press we rely on for information have their own motives and agenda. They have leanings and commercial interests. And they are not consistent. Some mainstream media are owned by big corporations. Some are controlled by a single person.

It will also be wise to follow the news and retain your memory for more than five minutes. I find the developments more interesting than the initial report itself. Just look at the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, for example. The news went from “Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashes in east Ukraine” to “Malaysia Airlines plane MH17 ‘shot down‘ in Ukraine” to “Pro-Russia rebels accused of cover-up over MH17 atrocity” to “MH17: Ukraine claims ‘compelling evidence‘ of Russian involvement.” One year later, the investigation is still going on and the truth is not yet established. Sometimes, the media also resort to willful distortion and ignorance. As a precautionary measure, I take what I read with a grain of salt. Sometimes, I need a tablespoon of it.

This category will be all about the things I read from the news, mostly my reaction and two cents. I am not delving into theoretical, technical and in-depth analysis. I don’t claim to be an expert in geopolitical affairs, and I am not discussing the politics of it (maybe not in a way that some of you might expect.) This is meant for personal observations and opinions only. This is also one way of recording important and not-so important events that caught my attention. So if you are looking for scholarly materials, I’m afraid this is not the place to be. Some of the things I will post may not be popular among the masses. Some might be offensive to others. If so, kindly let me know in a civil way so I can amend it. Or we can agree to disagree. Some might not be conclusively factual. When that happens, please reach out to me and set me straight. That is the only way to curb my ignorance.

Any feedback is welcome, especially criticisms. I hope that this will be a two-way learning process. I can do with more knowledge. After all, life is a never-ending journey of learning and discovering. In return, I wish to impart something positive. Or at the very least, may this section provoke your thoughts.

 

Advertisements

24 thoughts on “All About This New Category: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

  1. I’m glad your eyes are opened. Yes, it is true. But how many of the people here would even understand. Be prepared for a backlash. I can understand the blindness, it is the same in my country too. But for the West, it has been a tradition.. (and might I say, even when the former Soviet republics reigned).. I had an easy solution, no tv, and only a few newspaper that I can tolerate. Even then, I limit my dissent to a snort at best.. I simply don’t care, because I do not matter in this whole wide world. My opinion is worth precisely nothing. But if you have said this here, I hope a few people listen. Thank you for writing this. It was not only brave of you, but also touching in some ways.. thank you..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It took a lot of reading to open my eyes, Tejaswi. I know some will object. That’s why I’ve put a disclaimer. 🙂 In my country too. I think it is not really that they are blind but because they refuse to see. You solution sounds like a very good idea. I would like to do that once I gathere enough courage to live as a hermit. I haven’t watched TV for the last one year, except for a few football matches. And I haven’t touched a single newspaper, at least the printed ones. I read the news online though, which is sometimes worse. Instant feedback, instant updates. Instant everything. But I don’t want to be kept in the dark. So I guess it is a cross I have to bear, in the meantime. Oh, it’s so you. Not caring I mean. I don’t believe my opinions hold weight either. But it is better than saying nothing at all. Thank you for your words, Tejaswi. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Mitch, you MUST say it.. that is what I meant.. I am just another old timer, spent and well, insignificant.. but you can change the world with words.. and so could so many other people. Only if they tried. And I did not mean to dishearten you or try to say that being laid-back or reclusive is a solution. Just that, I know I did not know do it enough or was not effective. I do not even mention politics anywhere. The moment I do, I turn into some kind of evil, sadistic, flaming monster. So I refrain from it. Does not hide my credentials or where my heart lies, but it is easier to spend time online away from the trolls instead of tempting them.. 🙂
        But, you must speak up… must.. and you will, I hope..

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh, don’t worry. I was not discouraged. I can simply relate because being a hermit is my fondest wish. That is exactly what I’m hoping for, that we get to change the world one word at a time. I have to laugh at this: “I do not even mention politics anywhere. The moment I do, I turn into some kind of evil, sadistic, flaming monster.” They say to never mention politics and religion if you don’t want the discussion to get out of hand. Aw, that’s a good advice. Never feed the trolls. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Best wishes in this endeavor. I’ve spent my life drifting in and out of being a news junkie, as well as being incredibly opinionated about socio-political issues. Before I started my current blog at WordPress, I fulfilled my blogging and commenting urges at a primarily political blog with a somewhat leftist leaning. Even still the debates in the comment sections could go on for a day (or two) with more than one debate happening simultaneously on the same thread. Too often for myself, and others, the emotions toward those on the “other side” of the debate went way beyond civil. This is not good for my mental health. Currently I have reached one of those points where watching / reading the news quickly causes my mood to escalate not in a good way. So I look forward to your posts because I do want to keep up on what’s going on and personal takes on it all, since really that is all we have. One of better orgs out there is Media Matters for America. And along the same lines AdBusters.

    Like

    1. Ah, socio-political issues. It is something that most people avoid. I think we are not most people. That political blog sounds interesting. But I agree that it can be detrimental to one’s mental health. We can argue all we want but we will never agree on one single truth.

      I will try my best with this one. And I’ll be sure to check those out. Thank you for the suggestions and for sharing such great thoughts. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good for you, Mitch! 🙂 Through the years, I have learned that, even though the complete truth may prove difficult, it is not impossible to draw ever closer and closer to the truth. It simply requires time, patience, consistent determination, and discernment. Also, from what I learned in both undergraduate and graduate school was the absolute necessity in connecting with numerous, different sources for information a particular topic… For example, when I (frequently) concern myself with some topic/issue in the Middle East, there are many sources I can and do consult, for example: Amnesty International, the United Nations, the Middle East Monitor, Al Jazeera, the London Times, Churches for Middle East Peace … then, and only then, U. S. based/owned news sources. This way I am gaining (at the very least) a broad perspective. But it does not stop here for me… After initial research, I also have FB friend who live in the Middle East (Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, etc.) So I communicate with them, too! It always helps to get some personal perspectives as well as data from organizations (both governmental/political and non-political) and news from papers, radio, television, Internet, etc. Well, I gone on longer than necessary! LMAO Sorry… But, again, good for you! I look forward to this section very much! 😉

    Like

    1. You are right, Jonathan. The truth sets us free. And it is true that we have to get as many insights from different sources on a certain topic to understand it better and broaden our perspective. It’s not a problem. Your thoughts are very much welcome. I will try my best. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. my mother was once a Social Studies teacher…hence, I am privileged to have access to all the necessary information about the world…having said that I am greatly pleased to see your passion on this endeavour…your mom too is one of the many ofw who we should always look up to…keep up the spirit Mitch…I am loving your work..

    Like

  5. News hunting for yourself can be quite a full-time job too because you have to sift through so many materials to find that small kernel of truth, or perhaps half-truth. What have I done? In the past, I’ve read the headlines and the source, scan the article and go on to various other publications. In more recent times, like you, I’ve been reading stuff mostly online in addition to listening to selected radio stations and watching selected channels. So much propaganda. In the end, I’ve decided that I will just have to make sure to vote when I can where I live and sign noteworthy petitions that make sense. What else can I do, if not run for some public office to even make a difference? Even then, how much difference could I really make? Such is life, I’ll just blog about what’s right, wrong, and ridiculous. Thanks for the visit and the like on Snow Plea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Karina. Indeed, it is kinda frustrating sometimes when we want to make a difference so bad but held back by our limitations. We can always start within ourselves. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s