1984, Specks, and Beams – How We Do It Wrong
George Orwell’s 1949 release is suddenly a best seller.
1984, a dystopian masterpiece, sits at number one in all of amazon at the time of my writing. The print copy sold out on amazon as well.
The hullabaloo got started thanks to an answer Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to President Trump, gave on “Meet the Press.” In discussing comments given by White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, who said Trump had attracted the “largest audience ever to witness an inauguration.” Conway referred to this as “alternative facts” and click! went the book orders.
The phrase must have struck too close to “newspeak” or “doublethink” and so readers far and wide poured over the classic in an effort to say, “Aha!”
Now, I find the phrase “alternative facts” reprehensible and utterly bogus. There are surely alternative ways of evaluating facts, but I’m not one to go in for “personal truths,” “alternative facts,” or any other such post-modernist nonsense. I would like to provide a gentle public service reminder to all those diligently highlighting their copy of 1984, keen on thumping the page and interpreting the Nostradamus-like Orwell to the applause of their respective echo chambers.
Folks have been citing 1984 as a proof text against virtually every President since the book released in 1949.
Reagan? “This nut and his foreign policy. You know in 1984…”
Bush? “It’s crazy because in 1984…”
Clinton? “His entire administration is just ridiculous. Why, in 1984…”:
Bush the Younger? “Hasn’t anyone read 1984? Wake up sheeple!”
Obama? “Something something 1984… Thanks, Obama!”
Trump? You get the idea. 1984 sold out!
The problem is this. We as a people read books like this one not to protect our republic, but to confirm our preconceived beliefs. And so we look the other way when our guy is doing some of the chilling things in the novel but shout “1984!” like drunken revelers on December 31, 1983 when the other team’s guy does the same.
The real value in a book like 1984 is in self-reflection.
How am I adding to this sort culture spelled out here. What do I complacently do that may someday allow the frightening culmination to come about?
It reminds me of one of Jesus’ teachings. Most recall his admonition to “Judge not…” it’s a sort of panacea cited to avoid any and all accountability. Of course, Jesus goes on to say quite a bit more. With context, he’s communicating that we’ll be held accountable for how we judge. He uses the example of someone with a beam in his eye trying to remove the speck in another’s eye.
For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Mt. 7:2-4)
And this is why 1984 will always be brought into any discussion of political power. It’s too easy to keep the log in our eye and shout, “Orwellian! Orwellian! 1984! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!”
All of this without the self-reflection that might make reading 1984 useful. Though, useful or not, reading it is always enjoyable.
So what’s the good of seeing the dangers of 1984 if our next step is to simply use it as a prop during the 2 minutes of hate known as social media? So by all means, read 1984 (again). But don’t look for all the ways the other side is like Big Brother. Look for how you can stop fostering an environment where the book can even become a reality. And if your first thought is to try to convince everyone to get on your political party’s side well…
Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.
When local baseball player Junior Jones receives death threats over the color of his skin, the team’s wealthy owner hires Sam Rockwell to solve the case and stop a murder before it happens. Sam goes undercover as a minor league pitcher to strike out the culprit. Follow the clues along with Sam’s curmudgeonly ghost of a father Frank Rockwell, and Sam’s wife Amelia, who holds a secret that will forever change the lives of the entire Rockwell family.
It’s another laugh-filled, madcap mystery in the warm, witty 1950’s Hollywood-style of author Jason Anspach.