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Speaking to Iowa: The big lie and our role in truth

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Message Marsha Coleman-Adebayo

"In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation."

So wrote Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf: over the years those words have evolved to become this maxim: "If you tell a lie long and loud enough , people will eventually start to believe it."

It is considered the basis for all propaganda, and regrettably, a lot of what we can expect politicians to say on the pitch.

We are told lies and witness dishonest conduct on an all too regular basis from politicians and business leaders, and if we like the leader or have previously supported him or her we find it hard to acknowledge their betrayal of our trust.

But I have found on my book tour across the United States for my book, No Fear: A Whistleblower's Triumph, whether in New England, New York, Washington D.C. or elsewhere, that there is a great thirst among Americans to understand all the various forces in society and how they impact upon us.

A friend in Boston commented that on the T during a recent morning trip every single person in the rail carriage she was in was reading, most were reading books, less than a handful had e-readers and she and one other were reading the newspaper.   People are becoming tired of the trivia and self-opinionated ramblings of many on television and radio they're searching for answers and more and more are turning back to books.

Part of the problem is that the news has become so contaminated by opinion and infotainment, what on earth happened to simple fact?  

Stop and reflect awhile -- do you know what the three major issues are in your community?   Do you know what the two top issues are in your town or city? What about the three top issues in your state?   The issues facing the country are too many to list, but could you quickly recount the three top news stories this week?   I bet you'll pause before listing each, it's because the news has dumbed down over the last decade or two and it's made an America that is more out of touch with itself and the world.

But what I have found so far on the book tour was large audiences, 100 or 200 was the norm, jammed into every space in a book store, cafà or auditorium, people who listened intently and asked thoughtful, clever questions.   And it was clear from many of the questions that people had garnered them from books, Americans are being tired of being spoonfed baby food as news, they want real, thoughtful content.

People were asking, how do we play a role in creating the change we want to see?

It's a challenging question and one I often turn back to the audience and ask for their suggestions.   I don't presume to have the answers; what I hope for is constructive debate, and one where we tolerate the views of those we like the least, where we really listen and try to understand the motivation behind the question.   There is arrogance and an intolerance that has entered the political discourse in the United States that is harming us all.

As we begin this year with the Iowa caucus it's worth taking time to settle back and consider the future you believe we deserve and your role in making it happen.   This is a democracy it requires full participation for success and perhaps that is why we see so much failure now, because not enough of us are stepping up to the plate.

* Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is an environmental consultant whose work saw the first whistleblowing legislation of this century in the U.S.A., she is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblower's Triumph Against Corruption.

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Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is an environmental consultant who when working for the Environmental Protection Agency as a senior executive discovered dangerous mining conditions in South Africa conducted by a U.S. multinational. When she raised the issue (more...)
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