anne mikolay 2018These days, words are tossed around haphazardly and purposely redefined to stir confusion and further political agendas. To make sense of it all, perhaps we need to refresh our vocabulary, get back to basics, so to speak. For this, I defer to the reliable Webster’s Dictionary.

First up: truth. The official definition of truth is “the quality or state of being true; that which is true or in accordance with facts or reality.” Nowadays, we are encouraged to “speak our truth,” but contrary to contemporary opinion, truth is not subjective.

Truth is evidence, fact. What exactly is a fact? A fact is defined as “a thing that is indisputably true; a piece of information that is used as evidence or as part of a report or news article.”

The antonym of a fact is a lie, defined as “an intentionally false statement, an untruth, used with reference to a situation involving deception or founded on a mistaken impression.” A lie is deceit, “the action or practice of deceiving someone by concealing or misrepresenting the truth.”

For your consideration, I offer the following words, now standard in our conversation, and their true meanings:

Alternate - taking the place of; alternative.

Alternative fact - a statement intended to contradict another more verifiable, but less palatable statement. (Logic dictates, then, that an alternative fact can’t exist without a verifiable fact to contradict. Bear in mind, verifiable is defined as “able to be checked or demonstrated to be true, accurate, justified.” An alternative fact, then, is a lie.)

Crime - an action or omission that constitutes an offense that may be prosecuted by the state and is punishable by law; illegal activities; an action or activity that, although not illegal, is considered to be evil, shameful, or wrong.

Collusion - secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others. The legal definition of collusion is: an agreement between two or more people to defraud a person of his or her rights or to obtain something that is prohibited by law. A secret arrangement wherein two or more people whose legal interests seemingly conflict conspire to commit fraud. (Note: collusion, the intent to deceive, is not a crime.)

Fraud - defined in legal terms as a pact between two people to deceive a court with the purpose of obtaining something that they would not be able to get through legitimate judicial channels (such as, say, information on a political opponent).

Treason - a betraying, treachery, or breach of allegiance. The Constitution of the United States, Art. III, defines treason against the United States to consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort. Aid, we know, is help, assistance, support. Comfort is the alleviation of stress.

Lastly, here’s the word at the very root of our contemporary confusion: Semantics. Current politics relies heavily upon semantics, defined as “the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. There are a number of branches and subbranches of semantics, including formal semantics, which studies the logical aspects of meaning, such as sense, reference, implication, and logical form; lexical semantics, which studies word meanings and word relations, and conceptual semantics, which studies the cognitive structure of meaning.”

The powers that be employ semantics to their advantage. They twist the meaning of words and implication to benefit themselves and alter public perception. Truth and reality, as described by Ivanka Trump in her book, The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life, are inconsequential. “Perception is more important than reality,” Ivanka wrote, “If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is, in fact, true. This doesn’t mean you should be duplicitous or deceitful, but don’t go out of your way to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage.”

Bearing in mind the actual meaning of words, what exactly is Ivanka Trump saying? It sounds like a pretty recipe for success, but we’ve already defined truth as fact, as evidence, not perception, and we have established that lies are inherent in deceit. It follows, then, that failing to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage is deceit, a lie, an untruth, equally duplicitous as playing around with the meaning of the word “collusion” to purposely confuse the public.

Don’t be confused! Do your own research! Check the offered facts! Think for yourselves! Know your own language! Knowledge is power, because this, my friends, is semantics, a tool in the game they play to “win in work and life.” Remember, If they win, we lose.