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Letters from Downunder

The Death of Mushrooms

Submitted by Lindsay, Melbourne Australia!

Children and fools tell the truth - 17th century proverb

(7/11) A Roman governor is reputed to have asked, "What is truth?" I do not know if he ever found out, yet neither the question or answer - or the lack of an answer- have changed over the centuries.

Funny stuff, truth, isn't it? Lots of different kinds - mathematical, scientific, , or anything we can reasonably call a 'fact', and that amorphous realm of claim, recollection, inherited wisdom, prejudice and opinion that we call history, politics, relationships and other subjective notions. The things, in fact, that can be labelled true by anyone who wants to, and which we believe if we so choose.

There are many people who believe they are telling the truth because they have believed it to be true when they saw it or were told it, and have no reason to disbelieve or doubt - so they pass it on. Sometimes this becomes received wisdom, and can spread to almost unassailable degrees. Miracles and myths, for instance.

On the other hand, the opposite of truths are lies in all their variety, and between the two lie the range of human interactions, accounting for probably 90% of all our dealings. It doesn't take us long to recognise where we are in the spectrum at any given moment, how much to accept and how much to doubt, what to ignore and what to deal with, and a large part of this boils down to how much we trust the person or group telling or showing us. We all need to believe things, to have some certainty in the vast unknown ocean of life, and we all want to accept that we are told the truth by those we believe have the moral right to do so, just as we did when we were infants.

So, trust being the operative word, here's today's question: How much trust should we put in our leaders? How much do we believe that they are telling us the truth? We elect them in the hope, at least, that they will be honest and upright. That's what democracy is supposed to be about. And here's another funny thing: The higher up the chain of command, the closer to the top one gets, it seems the less truth that is told.

After all, the upper reaches are there to protect national security, aren't they? To ensure the country is at the top of its game, competes with its rivals, ensure uninterrupted supply of the goods we are led to believe are essential, and administer the national laws. They also ensure that citizens are free, have the right to speak as they wish, to follow the religion of their choice, and to vote for whom they choose. That's democracy. It's in the constitution.

Why, then, are they so mistrusted by so many of us? And how do they get away with it? One reason is that the majority of citizens can't be bothered taking a stand, and remain content with what they think is their share of the bread and circuses offered. And they feel powerless, overcome by the enormity of making their voice heard, so they shrug and accept, glad to live in a democracy.

This is exactly what the powerful at the top of the tree know. The indifference of the majority is their cloak - but they are proven liars, prevaricators and cheats, especially on the big things. They may indeed tell the truth - but only when it suits them.

Can anything be done to bring them to heel?

Why, yes. It does take a special kind of person to do it effectively, but the age of technology has got to the point where it's power can be harnessed for revelation, and the age of exasperation has joined it to produce people who know and can find out the lies, the absence of truth, the spin and the misdirections, and tell it to the world.

Enter Julian Assange. This Australian man was brought up not far from where I live. I, or the world at large may never have heard of him had he not been attracted to hacking, and becoming one of best, yet was also drawn to the plight of the dispossessed, refugees and starving around the world. This in turn led him to examining the causes, and suddenly ran into a wall of silence. Governments did not want their part in the creation of such disturbing images made public. They were, at least, supposed to be on the side of the oppressed. In the end, he created one of the most important websites of the 21st century.

He started Wikileaks.

Governments hate it, because their secrets are made public. Not all, just the ones slightly below the surface - but enough to let a little light fall into darkened places. Naturally, big brother has not been stopped, yet it could be that enough concerned citizen around the world have been emboldened to support more exposures, and even more importantly to begin to understand the motives involved.

In America's case, these are an overwhelming need and desire to keep the mighty on side, help the rich get richer, and to maintain the fiction that Uncle Sam is still the most powerful person on earth. It is not to bring democracy to those who do not have it - democracy in China? Think about it - that's never going to happen, so why try it in the Middle East? It is about oil and all that depends on it, and the way the truth has been shut out and replaced by lies is now apparent.

The sunshine of Wikileaks has lifted the lid, and mushrooms don't like it too much. The Government is after him, but no matter - his light will continue to shine.

As St. John said, Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Aiming for the light,


Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker