Language often confuses our thinking. The possessive pronoun, "my," for example, tends to create profound confusion about who owns what. We commonly say, my house, my wife, my car, my children, my school, my country, with complete confidence that we are communicating a plain fact — when we are not. I own my car and my house, but I do not own my wife and my children.
Meddling, conniving politicians, and similar con-artists, take advantage of this confusion, whether they know it consciously or not, to create added confusion for their own purposes. "My country, love it or leave it (obey or die)," means what? I don't own any country. In fact, the idea of country is an artificial political construction, usually defined by bloody combat, that is not a real entity that can be owned at all. So I suppose it means something like, "My place of birth, love it or leave it." That makes some kind of sense, at least, even if it is silly.
Consider the lyrics of a rousing folk song, "my land is your land." I never could figure out if "land" in this song meant territory within artificial political boundaries, or naturally occurring habitats. Regardless, if European immigrants bought land from the resident native Americans, and if I acquired clear title to that land, then my land is most emphatically NOT your land, no matter where it is. The song is meaningless, yet it conveys the impression that the collective "we" who happen to be alive here and now own all the land together; that is the fundamental principle of socialism, a political doctrine that does not work, although it transfers power to politicians in the short run. Pretty good propaganda.
Consider the confusion wrought by the noun, thing. Even my dictionary cannot define the word clearly (do look it up); a thing is both an inanimate object, and a living being. A rock and a person are the same thing? I don't think so. Yet we use the word in various contexts with the certainty that we will be understood, and that may be true, but the contradiction inherent in the concept itself causes great mischief. What happens when a person begins to equate living beings with inanimate objects?
Bob Wallace recently wrote, "People afflicted with hubris believe, to repeat what I just wrote, that ‘they are so intellectually and morally superior to everyone else it gives them the right to reduce other people to the status of things.'" In context, that means to me that politicians and bureaucrats, in their hubris, tend to view the population of individuals who happen to live within their political boundaries as inanimate objects to be used accordingly. Certainly we have abundant examples of this in history from Alexander the Great, who believed he owned the planet, to Bush the Small, whose handlers believe they own the planet. They are wrong. Things are not what they seem.
Still, they insist on treating us as things. A friend sent me the link to a paper called "The History of Secret US Human Experimentation." While I cannot personally attest to the truth of this history, the public testimony cited seems plausible. For example:
"1994 — Senator John D. Rockefeller issues a report revealing that for at least 50 years the Department of Defense has used hundreds of thousands of military personnel in human experiments and for intentional exposure to dangerous substances. Materials included mustard and nerve gas, ionizing radiation, psychochemicals, hallucinogens, and drugs used during the Gulf War."
The DOD has many things, guns, tanks, planes, ships, WMDs, drugs, and guinea pigs, otherwise known to the rest of us as individual human beings. I'm not so surprised that the military rulers, and their political rulers, view human life as a disposable commodity for whatever purpose they command at the moment, for they are hardened criminals, but I am surprised that the people who create these monstrosities, the scientists and the technicians, and the people who submit to these atrocities, the personnel and their families, do not give their actions a moment's thought, but treat themselves as helpless, inanimate, objects too. Nobody forced them to work for a DOD contractor, and we haven't had forced conscription for thirty years. Why do they do these things?
I would attribute the cause, in part, to confusion created by our language. Even illiterates in our midst use language, and the referents of some simple words can be too complex for clear understanding to even highly educated people, like the scientists who work for the DOD. I would challenge them, and their masters, to contemplate these simple words, respect your neighbor as you respect yourself, and see where comprehension leads.
May 29, 2003
Copyright © 2003 Robert Klassen