Steve A. Stone
Dear Friends and Patriots,
Once in a while, I’m asked why I started writing. It’s not an important question. If I was an “important” writer, it could be, but I’m not, and it’s not. But, the reason I started is as important to me today as it was when I got serious. That was one day in 2013.
I didn’t actually “start” writing that day, but it was the first day I committed to writing my first book, which was a milestone event for me. I’d been writing for years, if you count Navy planning documents and organization newsletters. But, a book! That was something quite different for me. It was a goal for years, but a goal I never thought I’d attain. Every time I had the urge to write a book I would contemplate how it would affect my marriage, and I’d walk away from it. I knew my wife all too well. I knew anything I wrote would have to have her approval, or she’d never stop rattling my cage about it. I’d always opted for peace in my household.
That all changed one Saturday afternoon in October that year – on the 13th, if I remember correctly. I settled down on the couch next to Irene and turned on Fox News to see what they were reporting for the day. There was a story I was interested in they’d been covering for about ten days. I especially wanted the latest update on that story. I don’t recall what it was, but do recall that Fox had played it up as a headliner. It wasn’t huge news, but seemed interesting and significant to me. That Saturday there was no mention of the story at all. It disappeared. It was dropped. It had gone from major news to nonexistent in the space of a day – even with no final outcome. That was the day it hit me – I was being manipulated. Fox had built up a story, then thought no one would notice they’d dropped it. I did, though.
I jumped to my feet and headed downstairs. Irene asked where I was going. I told her I needed to look up the story that wasn’t reported to see why. Once I got to my computer and searched around, I found a short update on my story of interest, but realized I’d just stumbled on something more important. I realized the most important things we need to know are often what the media withholds from us. They’re stories that are either never reported on, incorrectly reported on, or are dropped from their feed because the media has determined it’s not in the interest of their own agenda to keep the story alive. In other words – we’re all being played. Then, there are other stories fed to us that have no real purpose at all. They’re meant to soak up air time. They’re put to us as news, when they aren’t. They’re played as subjects of significance, when their true purpose is only to divert us from thinking about something that’s truly meaningful. Those are the media’s shiny toys. I understood on that one day that I’d been tracking a shiny toy, not something that had real meaning.
Today, of course, we all know those truths, don’t we? But, up until 13 October 2013, I admit it – I didn’t.
I sat in front of my computer for a good ten minutes, thinking about what I thought I perceived, then began constructing a topical outline for my first book. It sounds a bit strange, but that’s what happened. An unreported story spurred me to commit to doing something I’d pushed off for years. It also made me aware that there is a way to actively listen to the news that’s far better and more informative than just sitting there like a sponge.
My first book didn’t deal much with current events. It sounds odd, even to me in light of everything since, but that’s not the book I thought was important at that time. I wanted to write something that was more historical and philosophy based, so that’s what I did and that’s what it is.
When I published my first book, I looked around to decide what I should do next. Should I quit then, with only one book, or keep at it? I’d been writing a series of articles for my Tea Party since January of 2013 and had accumulated a lot of research on various social and political topics. I viewed my role in the Tea Party as something of a translator. My work in the Navy had taught me how to decompose complex technical subjects into plain English text that average people could understand. That’s what I was doing for my Tea Party friends – decomposing the subjects we were concerned with and presenting them to the organization in ways they could more easily consume. That allowed for the group to debate on their priorities, strategies, and future actions. I had a bit of an epiphany along the way – when it comes to reading, even the most motivated activist prefers things to be very, very succinct. They’re interested in the introduction, the salient points, and the summary of recommendations, but not much else. They want the Cliff’s Notes. My habit was to give them Herman Melville. It’s something I still do.
When I write, I anticipate questions. My intent is to always answer as many questions as I can think of, so the reader is as fully informed as me. After all, conveying information is my entire purpose. It always has been. I don’t often write to entertain. My style made me a bit unpopular with some people, who would ask questions about something I’d just published. My response was often posed as, “It’s in the article. If you’d read my articles you wouldn’t have to ask questions, you’d already know.” Arrogant? Maybe. I don’t know, but I admit I’m a bit irritated when confronted by a lack of intellectual curiosity. I try to be much more patient now, but admit it irks me when someone wants me to recap something I wrote because they claim they’re too busy to read four or five pages. I reason that if I can take hours to construct those four or five pages of information they can spend the 15 minutes it takes to read it. Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps I am arrogant. Blame my mother.
You may find it strange, but I read my own books. Every time I need to do a new print run for any of my books, I read it through from start to finish. I do that for two reasons. One is to find and correct editorial mistakes that still exist in most of them. The other is to see if what I wrote about is still germane, whether my take on the subjects is still correct in light of subsequent history, and to see if I covered the subject adequately. In re-reading, I came to an understanding of my own method that I wasn’t completely aware of for the first three books – the secret of how I choose what to write. I didn’t realize it, but I’d unconsciously formed a listening habit that was reflected in the orientation of my work. Instead of listening to what was being broadcast about a subject I was listening to determine what wasn’t. A good term for what I was doing (and still do) is “negative” listening. I was always alert for what wasn’t being asked and what wasn’t being told.
Negative listening is something that I can do that others may find either difficult or impossible. How does one “listen” for the unspoken; the unrevealed? I’m not sure I can explain, but I’m willing to try.
I’m no longer young. I’m not even middle aged anymore. According to most accepted metrics that regard age I’ve been a senior citizen for a good number of years now. All those years I’ve paid attention. I watched. I listened. I read. I thought and evaluated. I decided what was true, what was false, and what was outright fiction. I’m fairly convinced I write the way I do because I absorbed for over 60 years before I began to write. When I research for a topic, I use all my years of accumulated and often disparate learning to help filter out the noise of today so I can listen for the unspoken. That’s where the real truths lie today.
It could be what I do is a holdover from the Navy. I’m not sure. I may have written about this before. If I have, I apologize for repeating myself.
I was a submariner at one time. I spent months at a time underwater. All submariners are required to learn their ships and the art and science of submarining. One thing I learned was how modern submarines track targets. In the movies, you may see a visualization of a submarine searching for a target and “pinging.” Trust me, pinging is an extremely rare thing. Even the WWII submarines didn’t often ping. Emitting noise gives the ship’s position away. The entire purpose of a submarine is revealed in one word – stealth. Stealth equates to silence and camouflage. It means submarines try very hard not to be detected by staying very, very quiet. Noise is a submarine’s enemy. In the “old days,” which I won’t quantify for you, submarine Sonarmen listened intently for sounds in the ocean’s depths. They listened for the telltale signs of the presence of other ships. It may have been sounds emitted by the imperfection of a propeller blade, a dropped tool, a door shut too hard, or the sound of a noisy pump. Water is a great medium for sound propagation. Even quiet sounds can often be heard for miles. But, today’s submariners don’t listen for noise. They listen for “negative” noise. They look for unusually quiet spots in the ocean. Often the quiet spots they find are other submarines. There are many decades of science and engineering that make it possible, but the fact is – submarines are most often the quietest objects in the ocean. Everything out there – the shrimp, whales, and even schools of fish – make more noise than a modern submarine. When I learned that truth I learned the power of negative listening.
The truth is just as often found in what you’re not hearing as what you are.
The purpose of this article is to make you aware. To understand what’s going on in the world, our nation, or even in our own communities, we have to learn to appreciate the truth that what we aren’t hearing is often much more important than what we do. That means we must always question. We have to ask any and all questions that occur to us. We have to demand answers. When we pose a logical and sensical question and get no logical or sensical response in return we should rightfully believe something is being hidden. It’s that hidden thing we need to understand. What is given us is either obvious or is subterfuge. What is hidden is what reveals truth.
I’ll point you to a shining example – the House Select Committee to Investigate January 6th. If you’ve monitored anything presented by that committee, you’ll understand perfectly. The committee presents documents, witness statements, affidavits, and videos to present the narrative they are creating. They have an objective. They began with the end in mind and have worked for months to fill in what they believe they need to achieve that end. But, we are all aware of other documents, other witness statements, other affidavits, and other videos that refute almost every aspect of the committee’s presentation. We are all aware of the omissions. We are all aware of what’s going on. We know the game, because we’ve seen too much evidence that tells a different story. The evidence the committee hides from us is where the truth is. Only the willfully ignorant or those who are ideologically driven could take that committee at face value and believe their presentation.
I bring up the House Select Committee to Investigate January 6th because it’s so obvious. It doesn’t take a lot of work for anyone to understand because so much contrary information is in the public sphere. But, think for a moment how many things are out there where that isn’t true. Do you know the real reasons for our high gas prices and our flailing economy? Do you understand what’s truly wrong with our supply chains? Do you know what’s happening to the world’s food supplies and why? Do you know who America’s real enemies are, what they’re doing, and why? Do you understand almost everything you see and hear in the public domain is engineered to push you into thinking and believing things that are only half-truths at best? They’re designed to push you to make decisions your common sense tells you aren’t wise. How do you understand? How do you protect yourself, your family, and your friends? My answer is to practice negative listening, and to always ask, “What is it they aren’t telling me?” Your future safety in both the physical and economic sense may lie in developing your ability to answer that one question.
Meanwhile, I’ll continue to tell you what I see and hear. It’s up to you to make it all the way to the end of my musings. I can only lead you to my well.
Steve© Steve A. Stone
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.