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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mythology and the Mind Blowing Palaver of President Trump

From our earliest years we are taught to weave together truth and fact. One of my earliest experiences in this regard came early one morning on Christmas Day. Santa Claus purportedly brought our family a present – a carom board. On helping open the present I noticed postage stamps on the box containing the game. This at once shattered my belief in Santa Claus whose existence hitherto I had been taught as a fact. Immediately I wondered if Jesus and God were likewise of human manufacture. It seemed incredible to me that a world of adults would invest hard earned money, time, enterprise, and sometimes their very lives for centuries in something that had no basis in fact. This thought I kept to myself. Like the rest of my culture I soon learned that Santa Claus was, while not factually in residence at the North Pole, represented profound truths relating to innocence, wonder, anticipation, generosity, and parental love.  We experience this undeniable apprehension throughout our lives--that fact often pales in relevance to the power of experiential and emotive truth.  Say a lifelong friend of ours dies; we read a lengthy obituary in the paper that is replete with facts.  Yet to us, this in no way comes close to painting the person who meant so much to us.

The Trump administration uses the phrase “alternative facts.”  This phrase makes many of us blow a mental gasket as something that threatens society itself.  Are we to tell our young children to play with fire since it’s merely an alternate fact that fire can burn you? 

The issue before us has immense import. This issue pertains to the mythology of governance.  Truth is largely determined by what one’s mythology defines as legitimate.  Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol pits the mythology of Scrooge against the mythology of Christmas.  The parsimonious Scrooge defined truth as dramatically different from those celebrating Christmas.  It follows then that Scrooge’s world had alternative INTERPRETATIONS of fact.   A pile of money to him suggested only that the pile rightly and legitimately be even more towering.  The spirit of Christmas from its mythological perspective saw the same pile of money as the slave master of a spiritually immature Ebenezer Scrooge.

Where one stands in the mythology of governance clearly is determinative in the valence one ascribes to facts, their interpretation, and their perceived predictive implications.


The Eye of the Beholder

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