I’ve never considered myself an opinionated person. The unfortunate part of drafting an “opinion piece” each week is that you become opinionated or at the very least are labeled as such.
In the world in which we live today, opinions are no longer left at the water cooler, corner bar or on the front porch. The advent of the internet, social media and other forums has perpetuated a growing outlet for an opinionated public. Sadly, it would appear that giving voice to the masses has generated great anger.
One would have hoped that providing an outlet to get things off your chest would provide a relief valve but in so many cases I fear it only provides further fuel to energize the debate.
In this enlightened age we all should have an opinion and the right to voice that opinion, there is no argument there. But then what? How as a freedom loving people can we resolve these disagreements that are growing in our society? Disagreements that range from the simple to the extremely complex and from the most bizarre to the most deadly; a place where bodily harm is committed in the name of being right.
Our legal system is full of opinions that infringe on the rights of others. They go from legal battle to appeal after appeal. When the legal system fails to satisfy, people either disobey the law or take matters into their own hands. Neither remedy seems to provide adequate satisfaction and only adds fuel to the growing debate.
In a world where so much has changed, when it comes to getting one’s way the powerful, the rich, and the well connected still seem to have the upper hand. Today it seems shaping the truth trumps telling the truth.
Just this last week the President met with the Pope and had a phone conversation with Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. After the engagements, each side had a slightly different perspective on what transpired and the substance of what was discussed. Each party had an agenda going into the conversation and each side was determined to pursue their concerns, even if the real events may not have lent themselves to that perspective.
It seems to me that we have mastered the ability to shape the truth to fit our purpose so well that once accepted, it then becomes the truth.
Therein lies the biggest risk to the freedom we enjoy. We all want the truth, because in truth is fairness and reality. But when the truth is shaped for public consumption and is built around half truths and personal opinion that is where things go askew.
Once people start accepting and arguing for the shaped version of the truth from an agenda driven perspective, we find ourselves as lost as the Malaysian airliner with little hope of getting back on the correct course.
It is difficult for people who seek the truth to not be deceived when it is provided by a perceived trusted source. But who can be trusted? That is where each of needs to be less accepting and rely on the core values we’ve been given, on one faith, and ones basic common sense. Like the old saying goes, “Deceive me once shame on you. Deceive me twice, shame on me.”
Our search for the truth is what will keep our union strong. Openness, respect for our fellow citizen, fairness and equality to all and acceptance of differing views with a willingness to compromise must become the basis for what we are willing to acknowledge as truthful.
We must also accept the fact that the truth can be painful, but those who choose to shape the truth to avoid the pain are doing a disservice to themselves and the people they hope are gullible enough to accept their version of the truth.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.