- Posted August 14, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Freedom of Expression with responsibility
The mind absorbs a great deal of poison from the outer environment by continuous exposure to suggestions from others. This mental passivity has become especially baneful with the development of the mass media. Radio, television, and newspapers, pulp journals and tabloids, blare their messages at us every minute of the day, and their power of penetration is reinforced by the ingrained human disposition to accept what we are told and to comply with what we are urged to do.
We think as others want us to think, feel as others want us to feel, act in ways that will win the approval of our peers and superiors. The pull of the crowd has become irresistible.
Every time we open a newspaper, turn on the radio, or sit down before the television set, we are immediately subjected to propaganda, advertising, and subtle social suggestions. This is done daily, deliberately and systematically. All these media are teaching us to suspend our capacity for thought, or if we are to think at all, to think as they would like us to think. Newspapers, for instance, seek to command assent not only by their editorials and opinion columns, but by their layout, language, and lines of emphasis.
Those who exploit the media in this manner are generally small but powerful groups: the owners and sponsors of the media, advertising agencies, the masters of commerce. Such people are motivated primarily by self-interest, greed for wealth and power, a sense of self-importance.
Among the general public the role of reason tends to be subordinate to that of emotion, while mental inertia and indifference make the conquest of reason easier. Hence, by shaping public opinion through the manipulation of the media, a small minority is able to control the majority.
Those who comprise this small but powerful minority all have something to sell. Commercial advertisements make us want more and more goods that bring us no real happiness, no real peace of mind. We are told that our felicity depends on having a radio, television, video player, stereo set, and computer games. Yet, however much we deck ourselves with all these instruments of diversion, we still feel our lives painfully lacking.
When we hear a particular opinion being voiced, we should make an effort to find out who the writer or speaker is, what interests he or she represents, including political affiliations, religious leanings, and social background. We should also never forget that there are at least two sides to any issue, and that we are more likely to arrive at a correct stand if we first give unbiased consideration to both sides. Before arriving at a conclusion, one should gather all the relevant facts, maintain a calm mind free from emotional excitation, and prevent oneself from being swayed by preferences and anger, praise and blame. The same principle of objective thinking should also be applied to other matters in everyday life.
Is then there a good advice in Buddha’s teaching for the media or to be a responsible person?
Freedom of Speech, Responsibility of Speech and Right Speech.
The Six kinds of Speech
The Six Kinds of Speech are as follows:
1. The first one which is true and correct, and beneficial, and welcome and agreeable to others, pleasing to others. This speech the Buddha used on many occasions.
2. the second which is true, correct, and beneficial, but unwelcome and disagreeable to others, not pleasing to others. This speech the Buddha used whenever it was necessary to correct those who were deviating from the path.
3. the third which is true and correct but unbeneficial, and welcome and agreeable to others, pleasing to others. This speech the Buddha did not use.
4. the fourth which is true and correct, but unbeneficial, and unwelcome and disagreeable to others, not pleasing to others. This speech the Buddha did not use.
5. the fourth which is untrue, incorrect, and unbeneficial, but welcome and agreeable to others, pleasing to others. This speech the Buddha did not use.
6. The sixth which is untrue, incorrect, and unbeneficial, and unwelcome and disagreeable to others, not pleasing to others. This speech the Buddha did not use.
Of them, only the first and second are the two kinds of speech that the Lord Buddha speaks because those are true, correct, and beneficial. (Majjhi-manikaya, Vol. 2, Abhayaraja-kumara Sutta)
False speech is never beneficial in the ultimate sense, though one may gain worldly benefits from lying. Thus there are only types of speech altogether.