"Beware of the true meanings of these phrases."
Definition obviously is very important. One needs to know what he is talking about before he acts. A US dollar is not the same as a HK dollar, a mile is about 1.6 km, and a pound is about 0.45 kg. In the US you pay $4 per gallon instead of liter at the pump.
Not everything is easy to quantify though. Like how tired I am after work, or how happy a New Yorker is after a Yankees win. These characterizations are not important to mankind. There are, however, words or phrases of more significant meanings that are flying nowadays without a reality check. It is advantageous for the elites to monopolize the uses and meanings of these words but imperious for us to understand what the elites want us to believe. Five of the most important phrases or categories are listed below.
1. The international community.
Real meaning: the American and occasionally, the British and French governments. Most of the times, the rest of the world doesn't count, and one doesn't eve hear about them. Using their mouthpiece in the media with the widest reach around the globe and their oversized influence at the international bodies like the UN, IMF, World Bank, etc, these governments project an image that their own opinions are also the consensus of the world and use that against any dissents. When Bill Clinton and George Bush talked about Iraq's WMD, did any African country or any small European country have its own source of information on Iraq? If this African country dared to challenge the "international community", it would be bribed, blackmailed, or worse, and in any case, its messages would never be heard outside of that country anyway. France, while opposing the 2003 war, actually had little qualm with America's WMD fables. This pattern has repeated many times and continuously to feed the audience with a sinister image of any countries with policies not approved by the Americans. Currently the international community is at it again with Iran. Yet the foundation of the "consensus" of this international community on Iran's impending nuclear weapons is based only on the religiously insistence by the American and Israelis and their selective, dubious, or fabricated "intelligence".
2. The independent media.
When one from a country with a lesser voice or under pressure questions the "international community", he is often dismissed as not knowing or understanding what the "international community" already decides simply because you live in a country without "independent media" or "free press". True meaning: whatever BBC, CNN, NYT, WashPost, AP, Reuters, etc say they are, another fairy tale for the gullible of the modern societies. Much has been written about this subject and those sycophants, corrupt, and lying institutions. One must develop an immunity to anything "independent" hailed from the media. Ask yourself: independent from WHAT? Free press free of WHAT? Money, power, fame? Even if you are not owned by or operate superficially outside of a government, it doesn't mean you are independent of it or free. All those media are royal to their own governments or political institutions, and whoever their paying audience. Reporting serious matters invariably involves cuddling with government sources, who have the most inside scoop, so naturally you don't want to be too critical or call them liars. And the governments are all too eager to spin their agendas through you. So here is the well known symbiotic relationship between the media and the rich and powerful. This is the most important for media's survival, not truth. Once in a while they will print a story inconsistent with the official line, but it is always too little too late and drown in a sea of cheerleaders. If the original stories turn out to be wrong, the free press would bear no responsibilities, because "our sources told us so". What if we bomb Iran with devastating consequences but find nothing there? Well, blame the Iranians for not allowing, you name it, "independent media".
3. Non-governmental organization (NGO).
As much as the designation of "independent media" confers a sense of impartiality, NGO confers dependability. Only neither truly. An NGO is not established by the host government, but it can receive funding from it, or another government, or other entities or individuals inside or outside of the country. As this world operates, money trace twists and turns, but only a few rich, you-know-which countries and their multi-millionaire residents can fund NGO in other nations. Consequently, large NGOs likely all have invisible hands from overseas, and individual activists are vying for their funding as well. When you don't have "independent media" in your country, NGOs and all sorts of "independent media"-certified activists will
serve a similar function, e.g., manufacturing news that conveys
subjectivity to the Western audience. They are given more exposure and credibility by the "independent media" than the official lines. This is true for every modern
conflicts, Kosovo, Sudan, Syria, etc, and, even more pervasively, preludes to conflicts as well. Think Curveball of the Iraqis WMD fame. So, be suspicious about who is pulling the strings behind the NGOs and activists and treat them as critically as others.
4. Freedom, human rights, democracy.
Real meaning: thought opioids that make one high morally. As you chant these sacred words, you feel you are on their side. When the independent media decree one group as pro-democracy, a daily practice, the opposing group must be anti-democracy. It seems that everybody has some opinions on these phrases. In fact, democracy may be the
most analyzed subject in human history, so anything possibly said about democracy has been said, and here will only offer one analogy, to stock prices. Everybody wishes his candidate wins, e.g., the US President, much like a stock he owns rising in price. There is always this get-out-the-votes effort before an election, but 1) does one's vote matter, and 2) does one always vote in his best interest, not somebody else's? Take the stock analogy. For 1) how much do you think that you, as a regular investor buying or selling a few AAPL shares, affect its price? Nil, right? Then why do you think your vote will count in 2012? It takes really a lot of money or people to determine the stock price or the outcome of the election. For stocks there are all these big fund managers moving millions of dollars per second. In politics there are all these interest groups preparing and organizing the votes months ahead: (mega-)churches, industrial groups, etc, each numbering in the hundreds locally at least. If you are not in any group, you are vastly out-numbered; if you are, your single vote is still nothing. For 2) do these fund managers or local political activists have your best interest in mind? Don't bet on it. Stock managers care only about short-term performances and bonuses. If he earns enough for one year, who cares about losing YOUR money in the next three, when another equally greedy manager takes over? Sounds also eerily similar to going from one elected official to another, doesn't it? Likewise, the activists curry favor from above based on how many votes they deliver but will reap the benefits all by themselves. This is exactly how "democracy" is implemented in the "international community". Won't bother with why the fund managers move millions of dollars around or there may be two groups competing for your royalty. Suffice to say that they will have 99.99% of the benefits but little risk, while you are just a number, misbelieving your vote making a difference. Lastly, to buy a stock, a regular investor doesn't follow the company closely, as he follows the news or "experts" only infrequently. Same is true for one to (not) understand any economic or political subject of seriousness before the next voting ritual.
5. Global warming.
Real meaning: environmental concerns by the developed world. It makes scientific sense that human activities have accelerated since the Industrial Revolution and increase greenhouse gas production and Earth temperature. What and how to do about it? The developed countries have produced the most greenhouse gases in the history but have since moved the most polluting industries to developing countries, so hinge their high standard of living on China and India, while their current CO2 burden to reduce is lowering. The developing world should resist the posturing by the developed world and not be distracted or led by some limousine activists' fixation on global warming. A more pressing concern, while improving their citizen's lives, is to reduce other pollutants in the water, soil, air, food, etc. Some of the efforts will reduce CO2 emission as well. If people's living standard improves, energy use becomes more efficient, everything else is cleaned up, but slightly more CO2 is produced, it is widely worthwhile.
Because the above concepts are so commonly used and abused in modern societies' vocabulary, they deserve a place in the Ten Commandments.