There are truths that are true because they actually happened. And there are truths that are true just because everyone knows them to be true. The UK media specialises in the creation of the latter. The latest true truth that’s only true because everyone knows it to be true is that Charles Kennedy was hounded into his grave by Scottish nationalists. But everyone isn’t everyone. Everyone isn’t you or me, it’s everyone with power, everyone with influence, everyone with a position to lose. They say it must be so, and so it becomes the truth.
So now we have another true truth that never happened, the latest in a litany of the lies that comprise the story telling that passes for news. Like the truth that Nicola Sturgeon wanted the Tories to win so it doesn’t matter what the French ambassador said. Like the truth that Dennis Skinner was driven from his perch on the Commons bench. Like the truth that Neil Hay tweeted that No voters were Quislings. Like the truth that everyone lies so the lies of Alistair must be excused. Like the truth that the media isn’t biased. Everyone with power and influence says it must be so.
There’s the truth that actually happened. Charles Kennedy died too young. He was a decent and talented man with whom many of us had political differences of opinion, but he knew how to disagree without being disagreeable. He knew how to be human and humane. We need more of that in public life. He apparently died due to the cumulative effects on his body of years of the illness of alcoholism. It’s an illness of the psyche which slowly destroys the body. It’s a blight that has visited too many Scottish families. Civic Scotland mourns his passing. His passing is a loss which diminishes us all. These are truths which actually happened.
It’s a strange irony of the debate on Scotland’s future is that it’s the side which accuses independence supporters of peddling a myth which lives and breathes myths and survives by the constant manufacture of realities that have never happened. Hardly a day passes without a new myth being made and a new lie being laid. Now we’re told that it’s the fault of independence supporters that Charles Kennedy died tragically young. Those nationalists, the pursed lips cry false tears, they hounded him out of office and they hounded him out of life.
A cartoonist is accused for doing what every other cartoonist has done, but it’s only the Scottish independence supporting one who gets any blame. Political opponents do what political opponents have always done, but its only the SNP ones who are supposed to feel shame.
The article writers of the Daily Mail peddle their hateful stories. They’re gleefully taken up by the Guardian’s Michael White who hurls them as weapons at online supporters of Scottish independence. Michael doesn’t know how to disagree agreeably and then he bewails the disagreeability that he provokes.
But this latest attempt to create a true truth that never really happened is particularly low. By traducing the dead it is especially revolting in its contempt for life and the living. Things that actually happen are what makes up life, but now that they have manufactured a self-serving myth around the sad death of a troubled man, our media boys have shown that they are contemptuous of life and poisoners of grief.
My partner died nine months ago and I know the pain of loss. I know what it feels like to lose a loved one. And right now my heart with its hole filled with the tears of bereavement flies out to the family of Charles Kennedy. A good man who died too young, and now his loved ones have set sail on the weeping way, the voyage of loss on a hole in the heart that swells like the ocean. He’s gone forever and his loss will forever be felt. Right now they are struggling to come to terms with that, struggling to learn to accept it as a truth that has really happened.
You strive to make sense of the senseless, to make meaning from mourning. You dive inner depths in search of pearls of wisdom, dredging sand grains of comfort to smooth out the sharp pain. And eventually you just get used to it, it becomes a part of who you are as you sail on, and one day you discover that once again there are atolls of contentment and islands of joy. Then when concerned friends ask how you’re doing, you can reply “Ach ah’m jist fine.” The hole in your heart has been filled with the tears shed in quiet private places, and you sail on.
It’s a hard voyage. A stormy voyage. A voyage without end across the tears that fill the hole in your heart. It’s a hard enough journey without having to listen to voices that tell you who the others are that you must blame for your loss. Not because those others are responsible but because it suits the voices for you to blame the othered. Bereavement is a hard enough journey without being led astray by the mythical maps with their monsters.
It was the fault of Scottish nationalists, they hiss. Don’t fill the hole in the heart with your tears, they demand of the bereaved ones that Charles Kennedy has left behind, fill it with our bile and venom. Become our weapon, and become lost in the ocean of grief and drown in our hatred. We’re going to tell you who to blame and who to hate.
The ugly sirens of the media demand a sacrifice on the rocks, pulling the bereaved off course, pulling them into a never ending night. Making what is already a lonely voyage into a voyage of alienation. Because you can’t make your way out of the darkness of grief when you get stuck on the anger of a misplaced blame. You can’t navigate by that which is misplaced.
And that is why this latest lie angers and upsets me more than any of the others.
Michael White and the Daily Mail and its miserable propagandists, you should be fucking ashamed of yourselves.
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