December 2003

Ferriting out the truth requires reading, not TV viewing

By Galen Larson

I was fortunate to have an intelligent father. Not educated in the sense we accept today, but intelligent. He read and read on anything and everything. Three newspapers and a multitude of books on history, biography, and anything political. I was not allowed to read comic books even if I used my lunch money for their purchase. Comic books, the forerunner of video games, are a waste of time and money. I often thought my father was clairvoyant, as he always knew when I had hidden my most recent purchases under the mattress in my room.

“Aack!” he would exclaim. “Look what I found to start the fire with!”

Then he would give me a book from his shelf.

“Here, read this.”

His instructions were to always read a book on the same subject by another author, as then I could form an opinion. Otherwise I would just be expounding on another person’s observations and would know not if they were true.

Without two or more fields of reasoning, we allow dictators to come into power. One should only follow a leader when you know his history and leadership qualities. To find the whole, take time, do research.

We quickly took the word of our present leader to condemn Germany and France for not siding with us in our war on Iraq. If one listens, reads and researches, we find there were good reasons for their behavior. France and Germany were trading with Iraq, agricultural products for oil, as under the Iraqi regime very little agriculture was produced. We were trading with Iraq, medicine for oil.

Most wars are not fought for freedom but trade, which equates to money and power for the few. Many people are convinced we invaded Iraq because of terrorist weapons of mass destruction (of which we have a larger number in a variety of horrendous forms) and oil. Enter the equation of agribusiness – we too have an excess of food to market. Not from the small farmer, but ConAg, Cargil, ADM (whose slogan, “the nature of things to come,” has nothing to do with nature as we know it).

I read a thought-provoking book some time back. You got me — it was a novel, titled “Lucifer’s Hammer.” A giant asteroid hit Earth and tilted it off its axis, creating floods, fires and havoc. As I read it, I started to question the mentality of the author. First he picked as the leader a politician, the last person I would depend on in a crisis. Then it was off to the hinterlands of Wyoming – cold, windy and definitely not farmland. In his entourage he gathered farmers, carpenters, electricians, machinists, military men and doctors, but he left out one important person: a botanist. Would he not have the expertise to show the group how to live off the land till the crops came up, or what natural seeds they could cultivate? As I said, this was a novel. But you can get your thoughts motivated by fiction.

Then it’s on to get the facts — by reading papers, history books and a multitude of other authors. To get only the newest sound bites from the evil eye in the corner leaves one in a world of misinformation and propaganda. Isn’t it great that we don’t even have to invest in books? The local library gives one entrance into a world of information, adventure, poetry, music, and now the Internet. To not use that facility is an injustice to one’s self.

I’ve been told, “I don’t have time to read.” My answer is, “Don’t you ever go to the bathroom? Or can you not do two things at the same time?” and I’m not talking about chewing gum and walking.

A lot of people depend on hearsay for information and, it seems, their education. Hearsay is not allowed in our courts, but is an accepted form of knowledge in conversation. Reading books, magazines and newspapers will dispel this gossip. Case in point: I have been told that the U.N. has taken over our national parks, but upon research, I find it is not the U.N. but our American corporations that are wanting them privatized for their gain. Where did I get this information? By reading.

Reading is the greatest adventure one can embark on without leaving the comfort of your home.

Galen Larson lives west of Cortez.