In my copious free time, I have been thinking about “conspiracy theories”. I hear these words a lot these days – on television, on the radio, in conversations, on the Internet (Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, CNN, BBC, Euronews, France 24), which begs the question – must theories be political to deserve that label? Or, can there be conspiracy theories in all of our lives, personal and public? The Greeks and Romans in 5,000 B.C. had it down pat. Remember Euripides and Aeschylus? “Medea”? “Agamemnon”. Shakespeare’s tragedies were no walk in the park. “King Lear”? Wikipedia says conspiracy theories are frequently related to clandestine government plans and elaborate murder plots.
My own definition goes something like this – “Conspiracy Theories” are those occasions when friends, family, neighbors, strangers, newscasters, magazine and newspaper articles come up with an explanation of an event or situation that evokes a conspiracy without warrant. In other words, someone makes it up. Facts be damned. Facts just get in the way. Maybe not. Maybe a real fact or three will remain. The show stopper for me is – people prefer the conspiracy theory!!! …saying, “where there is smoke, there is fire.” NO. NOT TRUE. Hello??
Early in my life, I became obsessed with truth. I wanted people to tell the truth – what happened (facts). Then, what happened as a result (facts). Not a lot of “reasons of why” or “how they felt” about it. This obsession started when I was age two. I woke up. I looked for my blanket. It was gone. I asked Mother if she had seen it. She told me she took my blanket away and burned it. I asked Daddy. He agreed with Mother. A year later, I found the blanket in a chest of drawers in the dining room. Of course, they felt bad; I felt bad. I wondered if they hated me. I didn’t believe much of what they said after that. Don’t know what they wondered. I think the truth would have been better. That was my first experience of family coming up with an explanation of an event that evoked a conspiracy without warrant. I know, I know, they meant well, bless their hearts.
I still experience people fabricating explanations of events that evoke conspiracies without warrant. Truth is obvious, yet after the fabricated explanation, people more times than not choose the theory. Doubt is sewn. Damage is done. Truth is never the same. Painful memories include times when I told the truth – to my family, my friends, neighbors, strangers. Often to my own detriment. Nine times out of ten, another person would inject a fabricated version of the same events – usually to save face or cover tracks. The fabrication was popular; the truth was not.
I know, I know. Interpretation of the facts is in the eyes and ears of the beholder. However, I believe that it is the responsibility – the duty, if you will – of a person to be forthcoming with the truth. Be accurate. It complicates the process when the beholder doesn’t know what to believe. And, you can bet your bottom dollar that the beholder will choose the fabrication, or some version of it, as opposed to what is staring her/him in the face. Bless their heart.
When I was studying drama at the University of Georgia, we had to read the play by Fay Kanin (a friend of mine from Women in Film) and Michael Kanin, “Rashomon”. It had won three Tony Awards, in 1959. It was adapted for Broadway from the famous stories of Akutagawa. The wife of a Samurai officer is assaulted and her husband killed by a roving bandit. Contradictory versions of what happened are reenacted at the trial by the bandit, the wife, and the dead husband who speaks through a sorceress. Each version is true in its fashion. So, that disputes everything I just said, bless my heart. Everything I am saying can be argued. I don’t pretend to be an expert at this. This week, I have given it thought. Just sharing some musings….