• Michael Maguire

The naked truth


Naturists will tell you that nudist camps are the most egalitarian communities on the planet. Guests and residents do not use body coverings to define - or disguise - themselves. Hard to tell how important or ordinary someone is without seeing their fancy or mundane clothes.


When every body is exposed, everybody is exposed in their true form.


Social media has evolved as a version of nudism in that, even in the guise of anonymity, people posting pictures and rants and sermons and sayings and gossip are exposing themselves as they really are. Often mean, ignorant, churlish, childish, or dull.


Encountering this reality has been enlightening and disheartening. Are we really all so small and fearful? Yes, I’m afraid so. And while it is perfectly natural - and helpful - to be informed by fear so as not to dismiss real danger, it is not particularly helpful to conform to our fears in order to avoid valuable truth.


Many social media users use the platforms to decry or denigrate others and insist that those they disapprove of be banned or outlawed or punished somehow. Many want the media companies to shut them down by deleting or blocking their posts or accounts, thus eliminating their “hateful” notions and “stupid” beliefs from the conversation.


This of course is a real danger and it should be feared. First of all, who should be appointed to decide what’s right and who isn’t? You? Me? Mark Zuckerberg? Donald Trump? Are you willing to be taken down for standing up for your beliefs?


As an example, consider the car dealer who flew “the second largest Confederate flag in the country” at his location along the Interstate, but took it down after threats to burn it. The next effort was to force him to keep it down because it was offensive, according to the noise makers.


But that misses a golden moment. I for one would like every unreconstructed rebel to wear his battle flag wherever he goes so that I can readily identify - and steer clear of - him. I do not want to buy a car from a racist. The symbols of slave owners help me decide. I do not want him to be hidden beneath a civil exterior that is as false as his true beliefs. No. Thank you.


So as the connective force of social media combines with corrosive divisiveness of Donald Trump and his minions, we are entering an era of naked truth that may ultimately allow us to deal with each other on a more authentic footing, which can deliver the benefit of a true community of citizens finding solutions instead of scapegoats.


We are all only afraid of what we don’t know. Of what is hidden. Of what is unpredictable. When we are all laid bare, and nothing is hidden, there is nothing to fear. Trump has done that by speaking the fear of people who feel unheard. And by unmasking the truth of the vague pretense of political civility which is entirely responsible for the mess we currently find ourselves in.


Get real. Be yourself. Tell the truth. Take the consequences.

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State legislators representing Lakeland

Representative Colleen Burton

Senator Kelli Stargell