by Alex Symington.......
We human beings have an obsessive need to identify and label every manner of thing in existence. Every animal, vegetable and mineral have scientific names in Latin, as well as more numerous “common” names. Take the Oak Tree for example; “An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus (/ˈkwɜrkəs/; Latin "oak tree") of the beech family, Fagaceae. There are approximately 600 extant species of oaks. The common name "oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus.” Thank you, Wikipedia.
Our mania for labeling goes beyond the scientific to the world at large. We have the same obsession with categorizing our fellows in regard to race, religion, sexuality and political affiliation with countless hybridized sub-groupings. On one hand it is comforting to “know” what any one something is, but on the other hand it places limits on our perception of everything around us. I think it’s a Western thing.
Labels and identities are all well and good, but of much greater importance is how they manifest in the real world. Speaking of inaccurate labels, the new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan comes to mind. Our corporate owned press consistently labels Ryan a “wonk”, the label given to a nerdy expert on any given subject. In this case the fawning press tells us that Ryan is a budget wonk. A wonk’s wonk on matters fiscal! In an op-ed piece, economist Dean Baker addresses the myth of Ryan’s wonkhood. (link below) Baker writes, “In addition to wanting to privatize both Social Security and Medicare, Ryan has indicated that he essentially wants to shut down the federal government in the sense of taking away all of the money for the non-military portion of the budget. This is a fact that is easy to find for any reporter who could take a few minutes away from telling us what a great budget wonk the speaker is.”
Baker goes on to say, “The budget wonkism of [Speaker] Ryan is a beautiful example of the failure of the national media to take their job seriously. Telling us he is a wonk, without telling us the content of his wonkism, is a bad joke which should get people very angry at the folks who pretend to give us the news.”
Baker’s article is an indictment, not so much of Ryan, but of the nation’s corporate sponsored press and their slothful, sloppy reporting or lack thereof. Ryan is acting as Ryan is expected to act. He is a Trojan horse, fox-in-the-hen-house hater of government, ideologically driven to destroy that government that pays his $223,500 annual salary. Perhaps rather than “wonk”, saboteur is a more appropriate label for Ryan.
In the case of Ryan, the press has anointed him with wonk status, but then there are those that self-identify. Some identifiers were false right from the start and others became so with the passage of time. One from the former category is “conservative”. (Ryan self-identifies with this one.) The word is a complete misnomer in that to conserve is to prevent injury, decay, waste, or loss, to use or manage (natural resources) wisely; preserve; save. The folks that identify themselves as “conservative” are very busy NOT conserving! In fact they are hell-bent on extracting the planet’s remaining natural resources at an alarming rate with zero regard to the environmental havoc they are wreaking. These “conservatives” are destroying our planet, our only home, for an ever-dwindling return, but they can’t help themselves and are incapable of altering their terminal course.
Another label that has been co-opted and perverted beyond recognition, by none-other than those described in the previous paragraph is the identifier, “Christian”. (Yes, Ryan self-identifies with this one, too.) I realize this is a highly charged word, but many that claim to be Christian and followers of the Messiah have gone off the scriptural rails. Like many of the superstars of religious doctrine, Jesus’ overriding tenet was to love one another and to help our brothers and sisters as in Matthew 25:45, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” Many in congress with the power to help millions of our brothers and sisters in need self-identify with the Christian faith and do absolutely nothing to help the needy and, in fact, legislate to end existing help. Then of course there is traveling all over the planet and killing people for oil. Probably not on the WWJD list. You can not be a follower of Christ and ignore his most elemental teachings.
For the sake of simple truth; that quaint old-fashioned notion, we must periodically examine these identities for their true meanings to assure that they have not been altered by time or intentionally hijacked. “Left” and “Right” and “Radical” are sufficient adjectives to describe most political camps. The labels of Democrat, Republican, liberal and conservative are becoming more gaseous and less relevant.
The fact that Speaker Ryan self-identifies as a Christian and a conservative and the press further dubs him a wonk is laughable. He is none of those things and neither are his radical right supporters, even if they tell you they are. They are the cancerous “saboteur class” (how’s that for a label?) hollowing out our government from the inside and fulfilling their prophecy that government doesn’t work. Over time I have found the old saw, “pay attention to what people do and never mind what people say”, words to live by.
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