Seek Truth or Shut Up

What a miraculous time to be alive! Anyone with a smart phone can broadcast photos of cute puppies, videos or their friends prancing or pranking…or their opinions.

Opinion is too wimpy a word for it. Anyone and everyone can share their ecstasy or their rage. And everyone has access to a digital assault weapon to spray the entire world with their ideas.

So, I beg of you, my dear, precious reader. Beware! Beware of the wholesale hacking of the truth. Beware of the lies, damned lies, statistics and character assassinations out there. Beware of the flood of cyber propaganda we are constantly subjected to.

If you insist on reading or listening to so-called “social media,” blogs (this one included), Twitter and insta-everything, please, please take pains to ground yourself by giving preference to time-tested journalism–the old style of journalism that strives for fact-checking, objectivity and fairness. Yes, it is not the kind of journalism that rides the wave of coolness. It is not the next big thing. It is slow and careful, because it is principled.

For a start try the New York Times, BBC News, National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting Service, and Politico.

Of course there is no such thing as a completely bias free person or outlet for news and opinion. Of course there are people who love to criticize these outlets. But these are institutions that do strive for objectivity and fairness and fact-checking. They distinguish between news and opinion. They provide an invaluable service to anyone who wants to be a well informed citizen.

I hope that includes you.

And may I add, at the risk of sounding harsh, if you don’t take pains to be grounded in solid, truthful reporting and opinion, the least you can do is shut up.

About John

John is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations for over 40 years, including in rural, suburban, campus ministry and urban settings. His love of Border Collie sheepdogs has been fortified by his many friendships with shepherds all around the world. Nothing he has ever or will ever accomplish is as significant as the patience God, his wife and his friends have shown in putting up with his deficiencies.
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