Flowers Are Red, And Green Leaves Are Green…


February 17, 2016 by The Dog Rules

This post inspired by JJ Olivier’s post Of Racism & Pride

I wish I could recall who said “By the time we are 5 years old we have to be taught to hate everyone our relatives hate”. I think it’s true. Before we reach “the age of reason” we have experienced hours and hours of propaganda at the knees of those selected to be in authority over us.

(Wikipedia definition: Propaganda is information that is not impartial and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively (perhaps lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or using loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information presented.”)

It is likely that these authority figures were similarly indoctrinated and are genuinely unaware of inaccuracy of their information. In their minds it takes the form of the kind of thing that “everybody knows”. How DID “everybody” learn what “everybody knows”? Why by being told by an authority figure of course.

Well the teacher said, “You’re sassy
There’s ways that things should be
And you’ll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me”

And she said, “Flowers are red, young man
And green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen”

–   Harry Chapin – Flowers Are Red

Remember learning in school that you had to prove the validity of the information in your essay by referencing An Authority on your topic? Your opinion wasn’t considered worthy of acceptance because it was (just) your opinion. Ah, but when you reference the work of an Authority, oh now you’re talking sense. By paraphrasing the professional you could ride his/her coattails to acceptance and better grades! Don’t “rock the boat” by asking questions.

And just how did that authority become An Authority? By joining the “old boys club” whom he/she referenced for his/her own opinion paper. Experts have their own professional journals where they publish their articles for “peer review”. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the process: Submission of an article for review by ones peers (professionals from the same profession) is the way academics further knowledge in their field. They do their own research and link it to the work of others before them. If the Peers agree that this is interesting new work in support of the professional consensus, then the Article will appear in Journal for that profession so that all aspiring postulates can be indoctrinated appropriately. Long standing opinion is thus supported. God forbid that anyone upset the apple cart by attempting to publish conflicting information… and even if they do the peer review process can effectively squash it before it gets published. Publication in the Journal opens opportunity for future research funding.

How DO we move beyond that level of indoctrination? How do we help each other see clearly where the Authorities failed us and how can we update that faulty programming? Inviting people to talk about “the elephant in the room” often serves to intensify a focus on our differences rather than build a bridge of understanding our similarities as human beings.

It’s like saying “don’t think of the colour pink”. Now tell me what colour you are thinking of.


One thought on “Flowers Are Red, And Green Leaves Are Green…

  1. Like Harry Chapin’s young man, I too experienced that teacher-squashing art moment. How many children have, I wonder. Fortunately, there are many good, inspiring teachers in the world, and many good scientists doing good science that eventually makes it into the peer-reviewed journals and helps to change What-We-Know. Or what we think we know.

    We move beyond indoctrination by learning to think for ourselves, by surrounding ourselves with people who encourage us to find answers for ourselves, and most importantly, by encouraging our children to think for themselves and to learn–gently, I hope–the consequences of decisions they make with information at hand. In the case of children, of course, we have to set boundaries in which they can make decisions safely and learn critical thinking, always there to help them as they need.

    Thanks for a provocative article.


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The Dog Rules

The Dog Rules

Once the proud guardian of a rather cheeky Border Collie/Aussie Cattle Dog mix, may she forever rest in peace, my favourite activities were those things that included my canine friend. Now I have a new canine buddy in my life. He's also a Border Collie and sassy like my girl was. We're in the middle of an adventure; teaching him how to be a good canine citizen I spend my spare time volunteering at the local animal shelter as a dog walker/trainer. You can read all about it @

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