Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The only thing faster than the speed of light

Is the speed of dark.

Really, though, dark isn't the best descriptor. Darkness covers slumber and stillness and serenity. Darkness is rest and regeneration. Darkness and the moon and romance stroll hand-in-hand.

Darkness, however, is more often viewed as scary. Dark-skinned people have historically stood for sinister people in the American collective imagination. Dark days describe depression, and other similar aphorisms dot our language. As primates whose primary sense is vision, darkness isolates us. Darkness raises fear, which agitates and unsettles us. Our imaginations run away in the darkness, literally and figuratively.

Researchers and marketers assure us that negative messages carry more weight than do positive ones. We will react more against fear than towards growth. Particularly in times when we are feeling overwhelmed with the economy, a country at war and divided, and escalating media attacks, we intensely feel a lack of control over our lives.

A large part of really being safer is your ability to take charge in your environment. This year we've been deluged with a political marketing tsunami. Massive ad campaigns are intended to alarm us into pulling that lever for the candidate who claims to have solutions to what may or may not be real problems.

OK, you really can't control what interest groups with specific financial interests choose to scare you with (except by turning off your TV). You can control how you interpret marketing bait tossed at you. Here are some websites that can help you sort out fact from factoid:

Fact - Checking sites:

http://www.factcheck.org/
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/

(thanks to Lorraine Howell of Media Skills Training for these resources)

Urban Legend Sites:

http://www.snopes.com/
http://urbanlegends.about.com/

And, I probably don't need to tell you this, please vote. Participating in public discourse is a critical tool in creating a safer environment, for you and your loved ones, as well as just about everyone else.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's October!

Even after almost two decades living in Seattle, I miss real seasons. Back in my home town of New York the sweltering summer turns into an apple-crisp autumn, which in turn is clearly distinguished from winter's deep chill. Here, in Seattle, weather waivers back and forth, and then BAM! it lurches forward. October 2 was sunny and warm October 3 was blustery and rainy. Summer to fall overnight.

September 30 to October 1 was another transition, from summer to Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Many times abusive relationships can feel like Northwest seasons, one minute calm and the next stormy. Even though October is drawing to a close, it's not too late to consider how domestic violence has touched your life. And not let another season go by without doing something positive. Visit this King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence web page for suggestions.