I am pondering the current enthusiasm for “Fake News” and how it has always been here. The blatant lies and misinformation in the US at the moment, whether it be crowd numbers or whatever may have been going on in foreign lands, either makes you laugh or cry or both. And over here in the UK, similar mendacious ‘news’ spun the outcome of a generationally critical vote, and it doesn’t matter how you feel about the vote the lies stand out as simply that.
There appears a willingness to accept lies as simple marketing. It’s become normalised. Nobody flinches, nobody resigns, perhaps nobody even cares. But was it ever thus? Let’s examine fake news in a Druid context.
Iolo Morganwg (or Edward Williams… is a pseudonym a lie or a marketing ploy?) wrote the Barddas and reinvented Druidry. His retelling of older stories changed them. The Druidry we rely on nowadays is built on a conflation of medieval records and maybe some oral histories now lost in the new truths he span. Truth against the world…
Before Iolo, the Romans had a few things to say about the ancient Druids that have completely become the truth. History, they say, is written by the winners. Druids were both learned and articulate and also savage priests who practiced blood sacrifice, they sang songs and poetry, and foretold the future, but we in fact have no idea of the truth in those reports.
Mind you, the bible was written by committee and long after the events it speaks of. Perhaps we are too bothered by fake news, and should spend more time considering the impact of the news, both at the time and long afterward.
The evolving traditions of Druidry, from ancient and largely unknowable practice through romantic reinvention has grown through peaceful protest and animist awareness to the partly religious, partly philosophical, partly activist modern Druidry of today. Does it matter from where our fake news originated? We are the result of a thousand thousand stories, and here we are, now, being us.
But coming back to the mainstream again, what do we do about Fake News? Some may be obviously fake and deliberate misdirection, obfuscation and simple lies… but how about the others? How do we speak out when we cannot be sure of any truth except our own? When we march, when we petition, when we fund raise… how do we know, for sure, where lies the truth.