ethel’s words

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You are lied to as soon as you are born. Sometimes you are spoken to in a strange but affectionate language. Before you can understand the excitement of bright, colored lights, you are told that a personage named Santa Claus will bring you gifts. Later you are told that an Easter Bunny brings eggs to you. Before you can understand the concept, you are told that you have a heavenly father who lives in a never-yet-seen place called variously, paradise, heaven, celestial kingdom. You are told that heavenly father, or god, watches over you and hears when you appeal for help. (If you question any of this, you may be banished to the stool in the corner, to suffer loss of freedom--or worse.)

Soon you are told about George Washington, great Hero, who said he couldn’t tell a lie. The story is a lie. Before long you are told that your country is superior to all other countries in the world. Some of you are so unfortunate as to be born to hear lies that humans with light skin are superior to humans who are dark.

All of you are taught that you have freedom in this United States of America. Nobody tells you exactly what freedom is or how it works. It does not occur to you that you are in a (partly needed) bondage of don’t, can’t, no this, no that, no, no, prohibited, etc.

You are taught that your country is morally superior, and in a million subtle--and not so subtle--ways you are led to believe that when we slaughter helpless humans--from Native Americans to Black Africans, to Asians, to Iraqis--it is necessary or for a good cause and therefore ethically unassailable.

All your life you live by ideas so deeply impressed into you that you are never able to liberate yourself from your “good, bad, nice, evil, sin, revenge, punishment” ideas enough to accept the “appropriateness” of another culture, another philosophy. The pattern of believing lies leads to believing anything--almost. We witness the strange phenomenon of persons readily believing magical myths but rejecting scientific findings.

You probably are never taught (except maybe in song) that our continent is--or was--magnificent; that the whole Earth is beautiful; that humans everywhere are afflicted with the same kinds of lies but have the same dreams and bear the same pain. These, too, are value judgments, like the rest of the lies, but some fictions lead to peace and joy.

Ethel C. Hale