I often feel compelled to comment on the state of the world or the news of the day. I recognize that by opinion and my interpretation is personal and based in the sum of my experiences, education, and other biases. Most days I resist the urge to use this platform and share my outlandish views on social media and in speaking opportunities. This is mostly to honour the unwritten agreement that I have with subscribers to Make it Your Problem. For long time readers, you will have recognized dozens, maybe hundreds of times that I stepped into the fray and ranted away. Let this introduction serve as a disclaimer – if you don’t want to hear my latest rave, it would be best to exit this page and head over to my Patreon site for something completely different.
The headline reads ” President Suffers Third Degree Burns When his Trousers Spontaneously Ignite.” The rant is regarding alternate truth and what we are to do when someone we need to trust disregards the facts and says whatever serves his self-serving agenda. Do we say ” Oh, that’s just Donald.” Should we continue to ignore everything that flows from his lips? Can we hold up a light and shine truth on his statements? What could/would we achieve?
To be clear, not everything that is spoken is a lie, and not everything that turns out to be false is a lie either. When, he/we misspeak and are careless about how he / we tell a story, it may be wrong, but without malice aforethought, it is just bad practice and poor preparation. But there comes a time when the glaringly ridiculous isn’t negligent but rather malicious. When the statement is meant to manipulate and deceive, forgiveness and concessions shouldn’t be available.
The line was crossed with mean-spiritedness in statements about Mexican rapists, 911, NATO commitments, wiretapping, Russian involvement and election fraud. Reputable officials and appointees as well as media have continued to discredit conspiracy theories, self-aggrandizing assertions, and ‘woe-is-me’ whining.
Back to the question ” What do we do?”. I wish, we could just ignore the diatribes but the ramifications and consequences that these may have would mean that I am dangerously naive to ignore the message and therefore the messenger. Holding him and his utterings to a lower standard is a disservice to the country, the planet and ourselves and the danger is still that they inflame and conflate tension and do nothing to bring back a level of hope and truth.
So, by my reckoning, we are left to challenge the recklessness with all ammunition at hand. We have a voice, in face-to-face conversations. We have an audience in our blogs, podcasts and social media channels. We have friends and colleagues that we can recruit to speak their voices. With the power we have there is a responsibility to exercise good judgement and check the veracity of our message. A lie that is meant to defeat a different lie only serves to perpetuate the downward spiral.
If you read something, see something, feel something check it against at least three disparate sources before you forward, retweet, or share in any form.
It may be prudent if we return to Descartes 17th century Method before creating personal havoc by haranguing with only suspicions.
1. The first precept is never to accept a thing as true until I know it as such without a single doubt.
2. Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it.
3. The last rule is to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so comprehensive, that I should be certain of omitting nothing.
After working through the Cartesian process, I/we should be capable of creating with brevity and clarity (and humour if possible), a well reasoned and compelling rebuttal that makes sense to and resonates with our specific audience.
I can’t be sure that I won’t go flying off the deep end and react to something that I believe to be inaccurate or venomous or even mischevious. I will attempt to hold myself to a higher standard of verification and thought. I will try to hold the importance of truth over the urgency of being heard. I will do my best to gather information, data, and opinion from a variety of sources with a variety of positions. I will use my voice to shine a light when I have done my diligence. I won’t ignore and I won’t minimize.
As Edmund Burke said, and JFK restated, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”