Saturday, February 06, 2010
All That Guff 1
Words can clarify and instruct. They can inform and confer power and authority. However, they can also confound and confuse and muddy the waters, to use a much over-used cliché. They can dishearten and, all too often depress the hearer. Today we hear too much guff, defined as nonsense and baloney. One of the things we must train urselves to do today, to my mind, is to learn to discriminate between words that enslave and disempower (the "Guff" of my title) and words that free and empower.
1. Radio and Television Guff:
There is much guff to be heard on the broadcast media, both radio and television. Admittedly, we live in an era of information overload. As an avid radio listener, I tend to discriminate radically between channels and quite readily switch channels when the guff begins to bore or depress me. However, there are far too many peple who are guff junkies who gobble up those depressing and enslaving sound bites. In the mornings, as I am driving to work I always listen to the news headlines on RTE radio 1, but frequently change to a music channel when the guff gets suffocating and depressing. The depressing items about Economic Recession and even Economic Depression are just that Depressing and Disempowering. I suppose good news never really does make the headlines. Now, I do really believe that it is important to know what is going on in the world - hence I see it as a must to listen to the news headlines and also a must to be deeply moved, and hopefully spurred into some action or, at least monetary response, say to a news item like the recenty earthquake in Haiti. Obviously, such relevant and important news does not belong to the the realm of guff.
What does belong to the realm of guff, though, is all that political, social and psychological posturing that goes on, all that point-scoring and one-up-man-ship that is an imposter of real news. Hence, we need to sharpen our minds to winnow out the chaff of guff from the real wheat of the news. Real news is liberating and moving and a force for good, e.g., the world reaction to earthquakes and natural disasters in different parts of the world, to protests for human rights and to protests against war etc. For instance, who could not be interested in the recent Iraq Inquiry in the U.K. where the former P.M., Tony Blair was cross-examined on his motives for going to war with Iraq. Did Tony lie to the Inquiry and to his cabinet? That is a good question for news to deal with. It's an ethical one and we need our consciences to be disturbed into right action and right doing!
However, there are too many pundits and experts who have set themselves up as veritable oracles of truth and right living for the masses to follow. These are the worlds of High Finance motivated by sheer Greed (and we have been all-too-willing victims of the Speculators and of the Bankers during the era of the Celtic Tiger here in Ireland) and High Fashion - how we should dress, what cars we should drive, what schools we should go to etc. The questions we must ask ourselves are: (i) Am I prepared to swallow this guff lock, stock and barrel? (ii) How authentic and real a person am I? (iii) How far do I give into the guff peddled by the media? (iv) how far do I possess my posessions or how far do they possess me? (v) How much guff do I speak myself as I go through my daily life?