Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scripture every day to see if what Paul said was true. – Acts 17:11
An episode of the TV series “West Wing” shows Charlie, assistant to the President approaching C. J., the press secretary after a press conference where she has evaded a question and/or put some spin on the facts.
“People aren’t stupid, y’know,” he tells her.
“In an election year everybody’s stupid,” C.J. retorts.
“NO,” Charlie says pointedly, “in an election year, everybody gets treated stupid.”
You got that right, Charlie.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of having my intelligence insulted every time I turn on the news. The only reason I can think of that journalists would continue trying to influence the public with innuendos, half-truths, misquotes, and downright lies – not to mention censoring any story that doesn’t fit their agenda – is that somehow it’s working. I don’t think the majority of Americans are stupid, so why is this strategy so effective?
I’m guessing it’s because the press is counting on the fact that most voters aren’t going to fact check everything that’s reported. Whether this is a matter of being too busy, other things taking priority, or just plain laziness, few of us take the time to verify what we are hearing – or what we seem to be hearing.
Recently I took this pet peeve to social media, where attention spans are short, in the form of three posts, over a period of several weeks.
YOU’RE NOT STUPID. Has this happened to you? You’re watching the evening news, and the reporter quotes a statement made by someone, then looks into the camera and asks suspiciously, “But is this really TRUE?” Then he throws out a series of random facts and statistics loosely related to the topic at hand, and you’re wondering, “Wait … that doesn’t really answer the question …” or “That wasn’t really the point …”
(He reminds me of the guy putting a ball under one of three cups, then moving them around and around until you’re not sure where the ball is.)
You’re thinking, “I don’t get it …”
It’s not that you’re stupid. You’re being TREATED stupid! Most Americans aren’t as stupid as the media think we are, but how many of us are LAZY? Do your own research. In other words, FACT CHECK THE “FACT CHECKERS.”
YOU’RE NOT STUPID, Part 2
No, you’re probably not stupid, but are you LAZY? Sure, it’s easier letting someone else tell you what to think than to do your own research and think for yourself. But is it worth sacrificing the truth just to save yourself some mental effort?
Beware of general statements regarding someone’s character: “____________[person] is _________ [insulting label].” Even – especially – if the statement begins with “EVERYBODY knows …” or “It’s a well-known fact … “
Check it out. Has that person, in fact, DONE anything to merit that label? [Hint: the more the unsubstantiated statement is repeated without any facts to back it up, the greater the chance that somebody made it up.]
YOU’RE NOT STUPID (But are you LAZY?) Part III: BEWARE OF THE SOUND BYTE!
They do it on both sides, quote something the “bad guy” allegedly said, then “prove” it by playing a sound byte – usually just a few words, a few seconds long.
(Note: The shorter the sound byte, the more often it’s played, the greater the chance it’s being taken out of context and “proves” NOTHING.)
Find the original speech/interview/debate and read or listen to the WHOLE THING. You might be amazed at what was REALLY said and what the few highlighted words were referring to. I DARE YOU TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND. You might just end up changing it, and that’s OK. “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser to-day than he was yesterday.” (Alexander Pope)
Remember that every human is fallible, and few, if any, of them just wake up one morning and decide to be evil – although they may be pulled in that direction if fed enough random sound bytes and they refuse to examine the context. (“Don’t bother me with facts, I’ve already made up my mind.”)
P.S. THE SAME APPLIES TO RANDOM VERSES OF SCRIPTURE QUOTED OUT OF CONTEX.
That last statement points to another choice you have that is even more crucial, where more than your country is at stake. Whatever decisions we make now (as individuals and as a nation), there will come a time when we (as individuals and as a nation) will no longer exist in this world. After that is eternity. And eternity is a very, very, very long time.
A grain of sand compared with a bucket of sand is very small. Compared to a whole beach it’s even smaller. And that grain of sand compared with the sum total of all the sand in the world – beaches, deserts, bottom of the oceans … Now how small is it?
And yet that grain of sand in the Sahara is still bigger than this life compared with eternity! So why are we so absorbed in the present? God has shown us the way to eternal life, through His Son Jesus. His words were written down for people to read through the centuries, and He has give us His Spirit to guide us as we seek the truth.
When it comes to eternity, don’t let someone else tell you what to believe. There are countless gurus using convoluted logic, stereotypical assumptions, and quoting verses from the Bible out of context. Don’t be lazy! Check out for yourself what the Bible really says. Read long passages, whole books of the Bible, even the whole Bible, asking God to help you understand and apply what you’re reading to your life. I’d love to hear about what you have discovered, especially revelations that changed your mind about any former assumptions.
If you don’t have a Bible, let me know. I’d be happy to send you one.
Prayer: Lord, You told us, “Seek, and you will find.” Forgive us for being too focused on lesser things to think about eternity. Help us to be more diligent in seeking You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.