It recently occurred to me that I am a victim of propaganda, especially of the American variety. There is so much influence coming from that society that it has shaped some of my thinking without my consent. My resistance to certain perceptions and ideas on life are no longer as hard lined as they used to be, which provides me with a dilemma; I find myself in a grey area when it comes to matters that should be clear cut.

For instance, there are many who would argue that it is a great thing that abortion is legal in our country and there are many arguments to support that view. From the idea that a foetus can only be said to be alive after a certain period of time, before which it can be terminated and treated as a non-living thing. My immediate reaction to it would usually be to the contrary, citing the fact that life begins at conception. Yet the many “scientific” studies have pushed us to a point where we begin to relent to the idea that life only starts after certain weeks after conception, and even then the woman has the right to abort the foetus. And the fact that we even refer to the child as a foetus seems to have minimised the impact of the decision, no longer calling it a baby, because there is an emotive element that comes through when one refers to a baby instead of a foetus. Being exposed to so much US propaganda on this issue has made me undermine my own viewpoint, especially the idea that those who advocate for abortion are actually alive. They were not aborted, no matter what the situation was in society or their homes.

I cannot lay every act of propaganda at the feet of the Americans alone though. In South Africa, there are many issues being pushed through propaganda that impacts on my thinking. For instance, when it comes to issues of corruption, the line has been blurred. Many political figures argue that when black people begin to create wealth for themselves, other people (specifically whites) find a way to try to hold them back, by accusing them of tender fraud and other infractions. Then in their defence, they draw on the race card, trying to establish legitimacy through their support base around the country. And since we come from an era of apartheid, where black people were considered unfit to live like people, a lot of emotive currency is milked from there, causing me to hesitate in pronouncing the guilt of the people involved unless there is absolute proof of wrongdoing. Instead of being able to tell what is true or false, right or wrong, I become stagnant, unsure of what to do, especially because there are many black people who are not finding opportunities because of those whites in powerful positions who are unwilling to teach and mentor their black colleagues.

So how do we shape our thinking? Who do we allow to shape what we believe and how we carry that out? It is becoming more difficult to determine what to believe, but whatever we take up, we should not be this confused. Things should be clear, no matter how difficult the decisions, we should know what we believe and know how to deal with issues thrown at us through propaganda. Otherwise we will be lying to ourselves if we say we can think for ourselves.

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