August 23, 2017

Courage in Difficult Times is Not Pulling the Plug—it is Staying Connected.

I am a news junkie. I follow reporters and news commentators like some people follow rock stars and celebrities.

I imagine, while some might trade cards of their favorite sports heroes or perhaps witches or wizards, for me, it would be commentators and journalists.

“I’ll trade you three Anderson Cooper cards for your Richard Engel.” Yes, I have a mad crush on Richard Engel, and David Corn for that matter. Anyway…

Not only do I drown myself in the news, I was raised in it, coming of age when CNN and 24-hour news was born. The only time the channel changed was when my mother wanted to watch the international news. Now, with the glut of information (or, dare I say, misinformation) on the internet and the pure, unfiltered sh*t pouring out at us from social media, it is hard not to drown in it. It gets so sticky, it’s hard to wash off.

Today, much of the “news” follows foul-smelling streams of propaganda. We’re no longer trading in facts, but only absorbing the biases that suit our personal preferences. And, in these dire circumstances, society cannot evolve, we can only crumble. The question plaguing me is how do we find out what is really going on and how do we silence the cascade of lies? It is a challenge.

Lately, this news junkie has been tempted to seek reform. That’s right: give up the news.

I can’t stand it anymore. I can’t take the lies, the mistruths, the propaganda, and the trolling comments that disrupt meaningful discourse. I am becoming so over it, I plead for a Harry Potter marathon on television as a distraction. Sure, fantasy can suck us in for a short time, but, in reality, we don’t have magic wands, potions, and spells to destroy our real-life Voldemort. All we have is our voices and the power of our masses.

And therein lies the answer: our voices and our masses.

Courage in difficult times is not pulling the plug and powering down. It is staying connected when it is most difficult and, more so, staying connected positively. Granted, we don’t want to waste time engaging in meaningless battles of wits with witless troll wonders, but we do need to keep the discourse alive even ifat timeswe disagree with one another. We need to be open to the fact that “our truth” may not be the full truth. We need to realize another’s perspective may contain issues for us to consider. We need to get back to the idea that we’re not always right, no matter what our favorite internet blog or a social media meme states.

There is no possible way we laypeople have the complete truth of what is happening in the world, no matter how accurate our sources. To express our truth as the real truth and everyone else’s as dealing in fallacy is an exercise in naivety. We need to open ourselves to the wonders of facts and that there are indeed experts out there who are worth listening to—and not just the trash-talking heads in cable news and radio.

The first step is calming our egos. Yes, it is our own egos we need to contend with, which we are using as a shield of self-protection. When we wrap ourselves up tightly in our perspective, we have no idea what is truth or lies anymore. The fear of being misguided, conned, and manipulated is so great, we find ourselves succumbing as propaganda victims. The only way not to fall into the trap is to realize our own biases and fears. Opening ourselves up to information—all information—even that which is hard for us to digest, emotionally and intellectually, is a good thing.

Also, in today’s social discourse, there are those who are paid to disrupt and dissuade conversation. These people simply don’t care for any truth, for the state of society, us, or even themselves. They care only for the money someone is sliding in their pockets to play provocateur. It’s best to ignore them and stay focused on the issue at hand.

Those of us who desire a better society for all, who want to evolve as a species, have to raise the level of consciousness, and that starts with us. It starts with having the courage not only to speak up, but to listen and, sometimes, to realize we may be wrong.

We need to be willing to learn from others, even those we disagree with. We can’t let the dark forces of propaganda and lies shade the light of humanity.


“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”
~ Pema Chödrön


Relephant read:

Make Love Great Again.


Author: Jennifer Ott
Image: Kayla Velasquez/Unsplash
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman

Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen

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