Wednesday, January 19

the power of words

Relativizing the truth to convert it into something equivalent to opinion is something very of our time. There are great defenders of the idea that there are as many truths as people, as points of view, as beliefs. In the background they wield a very sui generis of freedom, affirming that if we are truly free, we can shape the truth as we please, until we deform it. I am writing these lines with a computer, but according to the preachers of this relativism we could debate if it is really a computer or if, on the contrary, it is a spaceship. And we could even conclude that I write with a spaceship and not with a computer. Why not? In fact, we can consider that affirming one hundred percent that this is a computer limits our freedom: that the truth does not limit our freedom, we have the right to lie!

What is objective, what is tangible, what is supported by scientific data, by eyewitness accounts or by irrefutable evidence is reduced to a mere point of view, melted into the magma of opinion. Thus there are those who can question the law of gravity and claim their freedom to deny it. They are within their rights. But as much as they insist, gravity exists. As pointed the philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, “The truth is one and the error, multiple”. Someone may also deny the existence of atoms, viruses, the Holocaust, Franco’s repression, the climate crisis, the deaths of people in the Mediterranean, social injustice, and Israeli laws that discriminate against women. Palestinian population or the deterioration of public health. But the truth is stubborn. Human beings are inclined “to denial when the truth is too costly for us (emotionally, intellectually or financially),” he wrote. Naomi klein, aware of the interests behind the lies, behind the words.

This argumentative mechanism is widely embraced on television sets where the cult of idiocy is practiced. The film captures it well Don’t look up (Don’t look up), with a character played by the great Cate Blanchett, who gives life to a presenter of a television program in which the word is constricted to such an extent that only one way of speaking is accepted, a communicative template in which there is no room for nuances, neither listening, nor direct thinking, nor intelligence. It is quite a portrait of those pseudojournalistic worlds so booming that they organize debates to call into question knowledge that has already been overcome, raising questions that extol ignorance. In Don’t look up they relativize the existence of a meteorite and the damage it can cause, reducing scientific knowledge to mere points of view. In the real world, in our daily lives, this type of “conversations” in public debates contribute notably to the questioning of truth and human rights, making them debatable.

“We are the words we use,” he maintained Jose Saramago, aware of the importance of vocabulary. “Wars always start long before the first shot is heard, they start with a change in vocabulary in the media,” said Polish reporter Kapuściński. Reality is shaped by definitions. The expression is used collateral damage Instead of murder, flexibility is called the cutting of labor rights, spending on investment in public services, assault on the flight of people fleeing wars or liberation to a military occupation with bombings.

The historian and author of Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari, explains it like this: “The story in which we believe shapes the society we build”. Words build, build us, and lead us to action. And they also suffer. “They are fed up with manipulation and appropriation by brutes,” he says. the writer Manuel Rivas, who often remembers that picture of Francisco de Goya’s Inquisition in which a tortured man appears and underneath this legend: “For moving the tongue in another way.” It is still difficult to move the tongue otherwise in too many places, in too many spaces.

It is difficult to imagine something if it is not named, to understand a reality if it is not related, to know an object if it does not have a designated word. In this contemporaneity tending towards dystopia – in which more and more series and films of this genre seem mere definitions of our present time – we need precise words that name scenarios of hope, stories that conceive other possible worlds, more humane, more decent, because what is not imagined before can hardly be created.

What room for maneuver does a society or political leader have in a world in which transnationals and the super-rich can have more power and influence than a government? There are undoubtedly enormous limitations in the capacity for action and management, but things can always be done, starting with the use of the word. We can always move our tongue in another way, to denounce, to rebel, to point out the impediments. There are too many needs, challenges and threats that need to be named to find solutions, alternatives, proposals.

It is possible to broaden the gaze, visualize non-dystopian futures to avoid self-fulfilling prophecies. Even in the most hopeless of our presents “we always have the power to deny our consent,” as he wrote. Cousin levi. In 2022, whatever happens, we will continue to have the power to defend decency, to sing a cry for help, to point out injustice, to name hope, to vindicate memory, not to pervert words, to preserve the truth . To protect the fire of Prometheus.

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