Writing Truth with Thoreau

‘I don’t believe in the facts. There are alternatives to the facts.’ These two phrases have become common in popular discourse in 2017 in the Trump era. But historically it needs to be noted that many regimes have cleverly, or not so cleverly, altered the truth. When a government does this so blatantly we should be worried. As writers we have an obligation to ascertain the truth, in contradiction to those that tried to hide it. We can retreat into our garret or like Henry David Thoreau hide in the woods, but the retreat is a cleansing process that allows us to return once more, to encounter truth. Published in 1854, Thoreau’s message works as a manifesto against Trump. The message is one that is straight forward: live simply, in harmony with nature and society.

There are still, for now, journalists and writers who are concerned with the truth, highlighting exploitation and inequality. Writers and the media need to do more than merely show a mirror to the world. Accountability is a strong world, as is responsibility. But without accountability and responsibility there is exploitation and corruption, and no nature or society to speak of to live in harmony with. Creating chaos, fear, and disharmony offers a theatre of base dramatic significance, but there are no winners here. Enveloped by this media, people switch off, not literally but emotionally: the zombie apocalypse. ‘The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning-star.’

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