Communication is one of the three functional requisites of societies. It can be verbal or nonverbal. It can be intrapersonal or interpersonal. It is the sine qua non of every social organization, whether animal or human.
Sad to say that communication can be positive or negative contributor to the development of man and society. As a means to transmit ideas, communication can either break or make an interpersonal relationship. It also can be deleterious to a nation.
Just recently, I received a chain letter, so hurtful to the Filipino people, that my initial impulse was to hurl brimstone and fire at the person, who allegedly wrote the hate letter. I have to shelve this week's blog topic, which I actually was about to post when I received the email, to respond to the disturbing message.
Being a sociologist, with lots of academic and research training in cultural anthropology, I have to first find a balm from this surgit amari aliquid (the iron entering the soul), before I write something in response to the letter. I have to breathe and address the issue systematically by doing some investigation. I just don't want to jump the gun indiscriminately.
The hate letter allegedly was sent by a radio talk-show host, Art Bell of Pahrump, Nevada. The title, "The Filipinos Make me Puke". It talked about how Filipinos has infested the USA like a disease, how their trashy quality of life has manifested through their extensive involvement in the US Armed Forces, how Filipinos try to assimilate with their Asian counterparts, but the only successful Filipinos are the prostitutes living in Japan. Then, it concluded with the message for the Filipinos to create an identity by not associating themselves with highly developed Asian countries, by recognizing that they are from a disgusting and filthy place, and by acknowledging that their technological acumen are not at par with that of Japan, Korea, and China.
My research on the web had resulted with the following: 1) Art Bell, as a radio personality, is incomparably good at entertaining UFOlogists, psychics, and conspiracy theorists, hence, his program on KNYE-FM specializes in tales of the supernatural, the paranormal, and the 'not-yet-categorized' weird. However, he is not a well-respected host. 2) His activities in radio broadcasting has been off-and on, affected by the victimization of his son by a pedophile substitute teacher and the death of his first wife from an asthma attack. 3) His second wife is half Filipino, and, the most significant information is that, 4) He did not make a broadcast calling the Philippines "a disgusting and filthy place", and that HE WAS NOT THE SOURCE OF THE HATE LETTER. The letter has been circulating online since the 90s. In fact, Mr. Bell sued the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 2001 for its outright treatment of the letter as fact when they published it. Philippine Daily Inquirer posted a retraction, however, the damage was done already. Sometime later, it was learned that the letter originated from a library computer at the Univ. of California-San Diego, posted by either a conspiracy theorist or weirdo. Ms. Valerie Polchari, the postmistress at UCSD library sent an apology to Mr. Bell. (Pls. check the ff. sites: Art Bell: A Who 2 Profile, Art Bell and Filipinos, etc.)
See how important communication is to a society? Besides promoting harmony and understanding, it also can be a "spark plug" of misunderstanding and chaos. I cannot emphasize strongly enough that before we circulate information, we really need to consider doing some research on its veracity. Harmony and progress in the world depend on us. Let us all do our part by communicating what is true and ignoring what is not.