Truth is dead. Apparently, we don’t need it anymore. Instead, we contort what little we know about an incident to support our preconceived viewpoint. Our minds are made up before we even become fully aware of the facts.
We speak up with great indignation, believing we are calling attention to social injustice, the lawlessness of others, or some other worthy cause; even though we know precious little about the details of what actually happened.
You know truth is dead when the news media dishes up the spin, but ignores the meat and potatoes of a story. Sometimes, even the basics of a story are not verified, as evidenced by the college gang rape tale that appeared in Rolling Stone.
Journalism is in a sorry, laughable state. Real reporting has been replaced by pretty people who can read, and get two opposing guests to interrupt each other with their predetermined talking points on cable news programs.
Unfortunately, we have become so tribal that there is very little market for the truth. Our attention spans are so limited, we really don’t want more than a few sound bite zingers anyway. We are so captivated by whatever happens to be the currently trending nonsense, that we willfully ignore the real issues. Anyway, since our opinions are already formed, we don’t need to be confused by the facts.
A lot of people are part of the conspiracy to kill truth: politicians, the media; but mostly, it is you and me for allowing it to happen. Individuals, who only avail themselves to one specific genre of news media outlet, will not get the truth. People who get their news from Twitter, will not get the truth.
It usually takes time for the truth to come out, but people don’t like waiting. It is more compelling to try a case in the media and hype people up by airing the opinions of livid, outspoken individuals who speak with great emotion, but little knowledge. That makes for good television and internet videos.
There is a lot of social injustice that needs to highlighted, righted, and made a shameful part of our history. But, jumping to conclusions doesn’t do the real cause justice. It undermines it. There is a place for opinions, but not until all the facts are in.
Okay, so much for the rant. What does a better way forward look like? It involves exercising restraint and patience, so our legal system can function. It requires leadership that has compassion for those who feel injustice has taken place, while yet upholding our system of laws.
We have heard a lot about having an honest conversation, but we haven’t seen much of it. Topics for discussion should include police stereotyping, the need for a police force that more accurately reflects the make-up of the community, police training, mental health issues, causes of crime, systemic issues, etc. It will take this type of conversation to begin to approach the truth, and find a positive path forward.
So, who has the courage to take the first step in this direction? It will take someone with vastly more fortitude than those who fire up a base of people who already believe just like they do. It’s hard work! But then it always has been easier to be a part of the problem than part of the solution.
Do we care enough to sit down with someone who has an opposing perspective and respectfully hear him or her out, then agree to work together? Do we care enough to hold off on the knee-jerk responses, to first get the facts, and then do the hard work of being part of the solution?
Even though there have been so many timely opportunities for our leaders to step up, I am unaware of any conversations like this happening on the national level. Therefore, the best way forward is probably the grassroots, local approach, initiated by “regular people,” like us.
This is a copy on my column that appeared in The Kenosha News this Monday.