Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘fact checkers’

The Truth of the Matter…

As children we were raised to always tell the truth – don’t lie, cheat or steal – and to treat others as we wanted to be treated. There was even a time when a firm handshake indicated a commitment – our word – to support an endeavor. Yet, lately these values seem to have been pushed aside by many and truth telling seems to have become a rare commodity. Did this happen overnight or was it a slow creep that we at first disregarded and then came to accept as the new norm? Whether we are dealing with areas such as the big pharma companies, college sports, financial institutions or more recently from some seeking the presidential nod we witness questionable ethics. Truth is being stretched, manipulated or even denied. As people we are left to wonder is truth even attainable and if so how do we access it?

Let’s look at a few specifics. I know of a person who has a serious medical condition that requires daily medication. Over the past four years this same medication has increased from $12,000 per month to nearly $20,000 – same dosage, same regime. Yes, you read that amount correctly – $20,000 – and since she has insurance this monthly cost is primarily picked up by them. That still doesn’t make it right.

Or how about the Southern Methodist University basketball player whose high school academic record was mysteriously altered to make him eligible to be recruited and play at the college level. You may think to yourself – I’ve heard similar stories before so you know the sad ending. The student eventually hits a brick wall but in the meantime, the institution makes hundreds of thousands of dollars off their skills. That’s not right.

Recently, we read reports that some financial institutions had been fined millions of dollars for their highly questionable practices (basically summed up as they win and we lose) yet when they were caught they were allowed to simply pay the fines and continue working in the same field. Seriously! ..that’s not right.

A few of our presidential candidates are even promising to fix everything – by themselves – a sort of one man band – without working through Congress. Do we really believe that anyone working alone can fix any and all ills that presently effect us? Forgetting about cell phone videos one candidate visiting Michigan recently announced at one of his events that due to space limitations, ‘thousands of people are outside unable to get a seat today.’ Ahh … here it comes … the YouTube video of this same event showed about 75 people and not ‘thousands’ were outside – some of whom had come to the event to protest. Why the need to exaggerate? Hmm… bigger is not necessarily better. Again, that’s not right.

Actually, amid all of the chaos we can access fact checkers, videos, and on line information like never before to help us separate the wheat from the chaff. But here is the challenge – we have to make time in our lives – even 15 minutes a day – to check further and not simply believe statements that are purposely repeated and repeated with greater flair each time in an effort to burn into our brains as ‘truth.’ The old adage stands… ‘If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is…’

I’m too old to believe a savior can ride in on a white horse, wave a magic wand and improve things overnight. It has taken years – decades even – to get to this point. But is it too much to ask for our business and political leaders to be held accountable and forced to demonstrate honesty? We need leaders who can be adults and put people above profit and truth above theatrics.

I will continue to refuse to believe that all is lost or that honesty was a thing of the past or accept the oft heard comment … ‘that’s just the way things are’… Instead, I will make a personal commitment to question, to seek the rest of the story, to use my brain to analyze the reality of the situation and be willing to gently but firmly share what I have discovered with others as I listen to their point of view. This takes time but what price are we willing to pay to reestablish integrity and honesty? What type of nation do we want our children and grandchildren to inherit?

I will continue to believe that everything happens for a purpose – that what goes around comes around – and to accept my responsibility in making positive change happen. The energy we put out to the Universe makes a difference. I choose to be a positive force of change, in my own way to the best of my ability. Because truth is not for sale to the highest bidder.

Have a great few days!

Have you ever been wrong?

David Brooks makes a point in his book, ‘The Social Animal’ that we are more alike in our thinking as human beings than we might believe. This idea was expanded upon in an article recently in ‘The Week’ magazine. The thought provoking questions posed by the later article made me stop and think about how I have formed my ideas and positions over the years. Have I changed my mind on things or seriously thought about why I believe as I do regarding political, social or environmental issues? Or have I simply been reading and searching for things that will verify ‘my’ truth.

To challenge my own opinions, I have chosen to read and listen to ideas from ‘the other side.’ We all know that the ‘other side’ is anything and everything that doesn’t support our own world view. I must say, I have found that some of the information can seriously disrupt my mindset! Yet, isn’t that the purpose of this incredible thing we call our brain. To take in information from varied sources and let those thoughts roll around in our mind for awhile so we develop a deeper understanding or even a new way of thinking? Maybe this is what is meant by life-long learning.

Over the next 16 months we will be deluged with political adds, speeches and hopefully, substantial debates. The question remains if we will occasionally choose to tune into a channel that we know has a view that is different from our own in order to hear viewpoints that we may disagree with at first blush. When you think about it we have nothing to lose and everything to gain – information is a powerful thing!

Our ideological choices and affiliations are important. Yet, in a country that emphasizes the rights of the individual it seems not only important but an obligation to stretch our comfort zone and consider a different way of looking at something. The result may be that we continue to hold our existing beliefs sacred but at least we will feel more confident in knowing why.

Anyone running for a political office over the next year and a half would be wise to remember that the fact checkers from the national T.V. channels are alive and well and will be quick to point out the error in any statement. In the spirit of full disclosure sometimes fact checkers are our greatest hope. The beauty of this is that much of our work sorting through the ‘he said, she said’ statements will be done for us. Our challenge, as individuals, is whether or not we are willing to be influenced by new information.

As the writer, Peter Wehner in CommentaryMagazine.com said it basically boils down to being brave enough to ask ourselves “Do you think you have ever been wrong?”

Have a great few days!