Fake News In the Dog Park
A friend of mine was with her dog in the "dog's-run-free-area" of her condo development. She noticed a woman with a good sized dog. The dog had just dropped a big one. The woman collared the dog and start to leave.
My friend asked her if she didn't want to grab the excrement through a plastic bag and remove it from the area. Everybody knows to do this and does it. It's a strong social and community custom. There are even bags and a special trash container.
The woman looked straight at her and said, "My dog didn't shit."
Is it coming to this? Is it a new fashion, trickling down from on high? If the king does it, and the ministers do it, so can we all? Fake news in the dog park seems a fitting metaphor for the impact of "post-factualism." And it surely "shits on" the bounds of community.
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There's a book, HANTA YO, that narrates 85 years in the life of small bands of Native Americans who called themselves Lakota. It does this from their own perspective, in English that echoes archaic Lakota. It's a truly precious look at the lifeways and cultural standards it took to hold individual self determination together with strong, healthy community.
As I reread it now in hardbound (no ebook here), I'm struck by the bedrock importance they placed on "truth-telling." Lies were profound communal poison. Such a one might actually be banished or killed. Many other kinds of failings could be worked with, but not that one.
The Hopi, I believe, got along fine (better perhaps) with a concept of time as everything emerging from within, not movement through a metaphorical, mechanical "space." So the future's "inside," not "out there ahead" somewhere.
But still they had "tenses" inflecting their verbs. And it may surprise you to hear what the changes in their verb endings meant to them.
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