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Letter to the editor: Lies will harm, knowledge is key

Editor:

My education was a continual expansion of mind and heart. Many times I thought: “I never knew that,” my world continually enriched by what I hadn’t known — about history, literature, science, psychology — my understanding deepening. If that made me “uncomfortable,” it was because I was growing — like a teenager grows, like we all grow or should grow throughout life.

Within family, culture, religion, we’re taught what to believe, often not questioning those in authority. I was an English major, reading “great” literature. The problem was that many writers were excluded from the literary “canon” — women, people of color, working class and poor people, Native Americans, immigrants — their voices, experiences, all absent. Those in authority claimed that “inclusion” would lessen “excellence,” as if exclusion and excellence were the same, as if they were the only ones qualified to judge.

Fundamentalism, fascism, patriarchal power, corporate power — they were and still are the “masters” defining reality, writing their history — not revealing U.S. secret involvement abroad, supporting dictators allowing our corporate exploitation; lynchings and continual violence against African Americans and Native Americans … silencing ideas, censoring truths, banning books threatening their power.

Anyone can demonize someone or a group, invent "facts,” endlessly repeat lies, stir hatred and violence. If those people have power, their words have power over us. I think of the importance of questioning, looking closely — at the world outside of us and the world within.

Those in power will try to keep power: fossil fuel companies denying global warming; tobacco, Big Pharma all claiming their products harmless; the big lie that Trump won, the election stolen, and Jan. 6 not a violent insurrection. All intentional lies.

Who should we believe? What did we all actually see on Jan. 6? What do we actually experience: wildfires, floods, drought, glaciers melting, global warming … life and democracy threatened.

Lies harm. Knowledge empowers.

Bernice Mennis, West Fort Ann

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