If from faucet something else comes out other than water
The other night I had a nightmare. I dreamed of being in a tragicomic situation and did not know how to get out of it. I was trying to think a way out invain and I was angry. When the alarm woke me up, I was for a while in bed thinking and thinking about such a lucid dream, so realistic, trying to make sense of it. Even now, at a distance of days, I’m still trying and maybe I managed.
In the dream, I was at home. I had just woken up, and I went to the bathroom to wash. But I could not. The water coming out of the faucet was of an alarmingly yellowish color. In the kitchen the same thing happened. I had the water running. The situation did not change. I was surprised, annoyed, outraged. As happens in dreams, I was shaking in anger. “How is it possible?”, I said. I opened and closed all faucets. Then I noticed that the water was colored but not murky. Eventually I brought myself to taste it and, to my great astonishment, I discovered that it was orange juice, and it had a great taste at that. It was surprising and, in a sense, reassuring. The discovery made me euphoric. I like orange juice and I had as much as I wanted! But then I fell back into anguish. I could not wash myself with orange juice. Or prepare tea or coffee. Nor could I have cooked something … I really did not know how to get out of that tiresome dream, if it weren’t for the alarm bell do come and save me.
I do not know what to say about this dream, except that it seems to me a metaphor, a good metaphor, of that sense of discomfort and helplessness that invades us every time we open a newspaper, when we surf the net, when we listen to the news trying to know what is happening around us and yet we find ourselves besieged by opinions, comments, interpretations, some interesting, some suggestive, that do not help us in our journey in the absence of an elemental, unvarnished, exposure of the facts. If we do not know what happened, how can we then agree (or disagree) with sombody’s comment? How do we orient ourselves freely? Why should we choose between thoughts already thought by others, including unjustified options?
And this brings us to the role of the media. Newspapers fulfill a public function that is very useful when it helps their readers know the facts by enriching them with details, critical interpretations and well-motivated opinions. If they do not tell the facts and limit themselves to report interpretations and opinions, then they are out of place, they move on from information to propaganda, they become just like the crazy aqueduct that I dreamed about, that should provide drinking water, as is necessary for us users, while instead it deploys a particular derivative of water, forcing us to use it instead of water, and make of it an impossible and conditioning use.
Luckily it was only a bad dream. In my house, the public water supply system really delivers water, I just checked, and it quite properly performs its public service mission. If it did not I would have protested, we all would have complained, en masse. We would have forced managers to restore the service.
Why then don’t we act in the same way when it comes to newspapers, which should perform a responsibility of public service that is no less important, which should publish information in the public interest, and which should make citizens aware of the facts to allow them to freely form an opinion, but then don’t?
We do not think enough about these things. But we should do it before reality turns into a bad dream. We must do it if we believe that the quality of democracy and the morality of the rulers are an important thing and depend very much, as I believe, by the conscious participation of citizens who are well informed of the facts.