|George Orwell - Author series (Photo credit: New Chemical History)|
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
— George Orwell, 1984
Since we've reached the year 2013 is it time for the clocks to start striking thirteen? Sure, things have been strange for several decades, but are they about to become even stranger?
I'm not going to dissect the words spoken by the President of the United States on Wednesday January 16, 2013 or the nonsensical babble of his buddy Joe. I think I may have incensed enough readers with a few of my more recent posts and I don't need to make things worse by pointing out the code words and diversionary tactics of this speech, but I do want to declaim the tactic of using "the children" to sway an argument or tug at heartstrings to get what we want.
It's a purely emotional appeal that is used as a propaganda strategy. Advertisers use it all the time. No parent wants to deprive their children of their safety, health, comfort, or pleasure in life. Nearly all parents want the absolute best for their children whenever possible. They want their children to have the best toys, clothes, food, and experiences. They rarely want their children to face deprivation or danger. It's the normal way to be.
The provision and well-being of our children affects every single one of us. After all, we are all parents or know someone who is a parent. Children are a part of our daily lives and most of us have the desire to save every child and give them the best opportunity for a quality life that our society can provide them. We sacrifice much for our children and it is well that we should.
However, doesn't using the children to propagandize and promote a political agenda seem a bit underhanded? Is it right to use children as a device to manipulate emotions to overrule rational thinking to get what we want?
I've been guilty of this myself. In my nearly twenty years working in a business affiliated with fund-raising, we evoked the name of "the children" to encourage people to dig deeper to give more money to whatever cause we were promoting at the time. After all, "It's for the kids". Make the audience feel bad. Make them feel like they must do something even though that something may not necessarily be the right thing when put into place in the bigger picture.
Showcasing the children is not always a bad thing. "Jerry's Kids", the young cancer patients at St. Jude Hospital, or "Save the Children" seem to be fine causes over all that have a decent long range mission in mind that will benefit many children in the future. If the intent is righteous then I don't mind.
It's the politicizing of the children that annoys me the most. I can deal with politicians giving their speeches before a background of union members, interest groups, or their own supporters. It's a common cliche that's rather stupid looking in my opinion, but it's a great photo op for the politicos. If a bunch of sheep-faced people want to stand behind some blithering politician, then more power to them. Maybe they'll even get shown on television.
But please, political agendists, don't use "the children" as props for your cause. Creating a reactionary movement because of some sensational incident by invoking all children as the cause du jour is merely a cheap appeal to the feelings of those who are not thinking out the entire issue.
I love my kids and my grandkids and I want everyone's kids to be alright. I also want to protect children from the dangers of the future just as much as the immediate dangers. I want to protect the children against things we are talking about now, but I think it might be even more important to protect them from the things that many of us are not talking about. We are holding the future in our hands--so what do we plan to do with it?
Stop the agenda driven rhetoric that is driven by emotions. See the absolute logic if you can. Today it may be 23 executive actions, tomorrow it might be 33 executive orders, by the end of the year we might be looking at who knows how many legislative actions costing more money than is worth spending. Thousands of words. And we know the danger of words. Words can be far more dangerous than weapons and have a far more lasting effect.
Maybe I need to dig up my copy of George Orwell's 1984 and reread it.