The Third Element

Of the three elements in the lying process that consists of liar, lie and being lied to, the third element, us being lied to by governments and mass media, is the most important and upon which the success of failure of the whole lying process depends. Herein lies our great responsibility. Do we want to enhance the lying or do we want to abort it? For if we believe the lies, we give liars credibility, relevance and power. But if we are aware of facts, ask questions and demand accountability, we can stop the lying.

To make the unbelievable believable and the irrational rational some turn to myth, fiction and story telling; others to compulsive lying. But when governments and mass media resort to all, with the aim of selling an average of two wars, an ethnic cleansing and three changes of governments a year, the deception involves the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world. However, unless if enough people believe the lies and act accordingly, wars and lies cannot be pursued. In other words, the international lying community is entirely dependent on the international believing community to sell a war as a picnic or " a peace of cake". They feed on our fears, prejudices and racism. They feed on our indifference, apathy and feelings of hopelessness. They feed on our lack of awareness of facts, history and geography. They feed on us. Only this dependency creates " a window of opportunity" for us to starve the lies, by filling in the lacks and gaps in our knowledge, or by installing fact detectors in our conscience to sift through the lies that are daily dumped on us.

Having learned facts, we may decide that we are pro war, pro racism and even pro the return of the KKK mentality and the awakening of Nazism, Fascism, McCarthyism, Sharonism and all other kinds and shapes of isms. But it will at least be an informed decision we have made and therefore able to live with happily ever after. But if we do not want things to be done in our name, and if we directly or indirectly contribute to the suffering of millions of people around the world, and therefore can make a difference, being aware of facts becomes a responsibility, if not an obligation. In the same manner that getting education, working, paying taxes and voting is a responsibility of any good citizen in any civil society. Because when we, third element, are taken for a ride by governments and mass media, we are not absolved from moral responsibility by saying, "we did not really know" that when an "endless war" is declared, it causes endless suffering to an endless number of people. For whenever a community ignores an injustice or fails to act to prevent it from happening, it only aggravates the injustice and increases the community’s moral responsibility when the injustice leads to an atrocity.

In a particularly harrowing scene in Polanski’s film, "The Pianist", that takes place during Nazi Germany, an old man is walking on the pavement while having to wear an armband with certain dimensions to brand him as having committed the crime of being "a Jew". The Nazi soldier approaches the man, slaps him on the face, and tells him that Jews are not allowed to walk on pavements, and that the designated place for Jews is in the gutter of the street. Apart from, the scene perfectly depicts loss of human dignity as being equal to loss of human life; it also shows how people who are sharing the pavement with the old man completely ignore what is happening to him for mere walking on the pavement. In this and other similar scenes, all pretend not to see and none tries to stop the indignity. Sixty years on, in Palestine, this same scene is daily enacted at Israeli roadblocks where young Israeli soldiers force Palestinians of all ages, to walk in muddy valleys or to climb rocky hilltops, often using donkeys, while the whole world is watching with closed eyes.

History repeats itself in the same manner when we have either not learned, or have learned the wrong lesson from the human or historical experience. The abused becomes abuser when the driving force behind getting justice is revenge, and when the victim of abuse does not see the very thick line between justice and revenge. For although one can never and must not forget being dehumanized, how we go about reclaiming our humanity decides the nature of our regained humanity. Should the Palestinians live by the motto of "never forget or forgive" for having been dehumanized, their lands stolen, their history distorted, and for most unjustly, having to pay for the mistakes of "the civilized world", history is likely to repeat itself. Had the international and the majority of the local community not pretended "they did not really know" what was happening and had the media condemned instead of cheered the racism, the holocaust would not have taken place and history would have taken a different course for European Jews and Palestinians.

Whenever we are confronted with claims that involve the lives of millions of people around the world, we have choices to make that involve a certain moral responsibility. Because when governments and mass media lie, it is their responsibility; but when we believe the lies, the responsibility becomes ours. A case in point is when a head of a nation whose country has "democracy and freedom for all" embedded in its great constitution claims to be Julius Caesar and introduces his friend, who has Sabra & Shatila, Qana and Jenine on his resume, as "man of peace". On the one hand, since Julius Caesar belongs to "the greatest democracy" in the world and his "man of peace" belongs to the "only democracy" in the region, we may want to ask them a few questions. We may want to ask them if the noble causes they send our sons and daughters with the possibility of getting killed or of killing other people’s sons and daughters, are noble enough to send their own sons and daughters? We may also want to ask them if the God whom they claim promises them lands, honey, oil, milk and serial permission to kill happens to be the same God of some 1.2 billion Moslems they declared "terrorists"? Because if by any chance it turns out to be the same and only God for Julius Caesar, the " man of peace" and the "terrorists", one might end up fighting one’s own God, fellow folks, fellow cousins, fellow neighbours and ultimately fellow self. On the other hand, we may want to hail Caesar and his very peaceful friend in arms. Whichever way we may choose, to believe the lies or not to believe the lies is where our responsibility lies.