Hyperbole: exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
I am weary these days. We live in a world in which we have been bombarded with hyperbole day after day after day. The purpose of such overstatement is not to inform us but to propagandize us. Hyperbole stokes fear and confusion. It is meant to appeal to our basest instincts. It trivializes logic and tempts us to react more from emotions than thinking. Traditional and social media are flooded with it so much so that many begin to emulate the soundbites that have captured their minds. The drums are banging, the cadence is repeated in catchy phrases again and again and again until we accept the snake oil as a panacea of truth and buy into a giant pyramid scheme that leads us to a cult like existence.
Of course we tell ourselves that these are are the extreme fringes at work and yet bits and pieces of such hyperbole make their way into the thinking of people that we know and even our elected officials who once seemed so rational and clear headed. Ordinary people begin to fear the worst. They choose sides and isolate themselves from those whose ideas seem dangerously different. They begin to demonize others as dangerous opposition. The divisions grow and the hyperbole becomes ever louder because now it is being accepted as gospel. When we have a need to unite we are unable because trust in one another has evaporated. We no longer know who or what to believe.
Our nation has in many ways become its own reality show in which we all have parts to play while being manipulated and directed by forces that we never actually see. Voices behind the curtain ask us to believe that half of the country is intent on taking away every single freedom that we have ever known and transforming America into a godless communist gulag. The other half is supposedly the spawn of Hitler with its fascism and army of Proud Boys. Sinister voices threaten us that one way or another our country is on a precipice from which it cannot survive. Doomsday seems to be just over the horizon.
It feels as though every single thing is being driven by political propaganda, by hyperbole. We have taken all of our first amendment rights and made them issues of fear. We confuse the roles of our three branches of government, attempting to turn them all into vassals of the executive branch, followers of a single party, a single set of beliefs, a single individual to whom we cede even the power over our health.
It is as though we have somehow forgotten that our founding fathers did not want a monarchy or a dictator or a cult. They purposely separated government and religion so that no one faith would dominate others. In the early years they did not even have political parties. Each individual was important (at least each free white male) with provisions for equalizing the freedoms even more in the future to include all races, sexes and creeds. Our constitution is living and breathing and changing to reflect the times. As long as we staunchly protect its intent not to create dynasties and to be open to differing ideas we will flourish. Doing this has always required a willingness to accept our differences and work them out in a spirit of compromise. We should all shun attempts to divide us.
Hyperbole and politics have even invaded our response to Covid-19. The extremes are visible. Even now we hear groups insisting that our efforts to keep the virus contained have been too extreme. They insist that we should return to total normalcy and let the dice fall where they may. Those who feel this way don’t seem to realize that things are more horrific because half of the population has been willing to take precautions. In doing so they have kept the infection rate down. Our seeming good fortune is not because the virus is a hoax but because many have followed the science. If we throw caution to the wind in a grand hyperbolic gesture scientists tell us to expect more suffering and death.
A nation gripped by fear turns on itself. Beware of anyone peddling prognostications of gloom and doom or anyone whom we repeatedly catch in a lie. Extreme language is often a key that we are being subjected to manipulation. Adolf Hitler made the Germans afraid of economic want and the threat of communism. He used their fears to increase his own power. Lenin took advantage of war and poverty to overtake Russia and replace the government of the Czar with communism. Dictators first turn people of a nation against each other. They divide and then they conquer. When we see those signs it is time to ignore the noise that they peddle and use our common sense and our freedoms to set things right.
This is the United States of America. Each person’s vote is sacred. Each branch of government is there to protect our freedoms. No single person is the key to our liberty. We do not bow or curtsy in adulation. We are the people. We are the life the liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Let no individual or group or power behind a curtain ever take that away from us. Just go vote.