The following public opinion piece is written by friend and writer, Lori Tighe. She is a Canadian citizen and I appreciate her point of view on the truth. Hopefully, you will, too. Feel free to comment.
by Lori Tighe
Would it be fair to say that truth just isn’t what it used to be? I remember as a young child Friday Confession. I would stand in line waiting my turn to confess. I would try to add up how many times I had lied. Like the time I told my brother I didn’t know where his chocolate bar went. Memory tells me I had two or three lies a week that I confessed along with the number of times I disobeyed my parents. By the way the latter was less.
Today lies seem to be banded about inconsequentially. They are everywhere. It doesn’t matter what station or office you might hold telling the truth isn’t something that is required anymore.
I remember watching Perry Mason, the TV lawyer of my generation, I watched as they swore in witnesses, “To tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me GOD.” Hmm the ‘whole truth’. What an interesting idea. Today the whole truth has been fractured into a thousand shards. Often there is a shred of truth shared but it comes with situational embellishment to suit the authors’ purpose. Here in lies the dilemma. (No pun intended.)
Information overload and bombardment has made it impossible to digest more than a little shard of information at a time. Sometimes these shards blend and get attached and displaced in odd configurations. If what we hear touches upon one of the’ bits ‘we’ve heard it is often taken at face value with little introspection or critiquing. Who has the time to fact check all this stuff? The result is truth has become a menu in which we can select the bits that appeal and leave the rest behind.
This is making factual, honest conversations almost impossible. Upon hearing something that sounds not right I begin to question myself as to how much of what is being said is honest and factual? These bits of information begin to clash, cast doubt, create opposition and confusion leaving me quite often speechless.
The latest challenge I faced revealed itself in a group email that was sent to a volunteer group I am part of. It began with greetings and pleasantries hoping everyone was well and managing the pandemic. Those best wishes and salutations morphed into bits of information that the writer had selected to share. I was disturbed by the misinformation they conveyed. The dis-ease sat in the pit of my stomach. I needed to speak.
The first point was easy. The writer expressed confusion over, “Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, don’t go anywhere, carefully expose yourself a bit to build immunity, take vitamins D3, Niacin, Potassium and Zinc and some say it’s not necessary.” I responded in what I hope was a friendly and factual statement. “No kidding eh. You’re not the only one who is confused.
I have chosen to rely on the global consensus from the scientists and doctors who are leading the charge. Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, limit your contacts and get vaccinated.” Phew one down. The next assertion sent me researching so I had the facts I needed.
The claim had a bit of truth and then the embellishment took over. “What this, (the pandemic) has done to small businesses, especially bars and restaurants is immense. Unfortunately, the packaged just released does not give what is needed for this as the first one did. This package has more funds going out of the country than in. It is disheartening as we see going out of business signs going up.”
After some research and fact checking I drafted the following reply.
“Some small businesses are suffering in Canada too. Some were agile enough to be able to adapt to the reality and they have managed to stay afloat, others have thrived. I agree restaurants have been hit hard. In some cases, even the grants and low interest loans weren’t enough. You piqued my curiosity re ‘the package just released’ in the states. The only recent package I found was the Covid Relief Bill. 1.9 trillion dollars!!! How many zeros are in a trillion?
I started to itemize this package:
- $1400 per eligible person
- $400 a week unemployment benefit enhancement
- $25 B in rental assistance
- $5 B for struggling renters
- $9.5 B for those at risk of homelessness
- 15% increase for food stamps
- $3B to women, infants and children to secure food
- 1B nutrition assistance for US territories (Is this the money going out of the country?)
- Partner with restaurants to provide food to needy
- $25 B child care and tax child credits
- $15B to child care providers
- Subsidies for health insurance premiums
- $4B for mental health and substance abuse
- $20 B veteran health care
- $15 -35 B to some states, local, tribal & nonprofit financing programs
- $350B aid for states and schools
- $20 B for national vaccine program
- $500 B lending program for the air industry
- $17 B national security
- $117B for hospitals
- 25B for the Kennedy Center Performing Arts
- It doesn’t look that the proposed increase for minimum wage is going to fly.
What an education this was for me to see what’s going on in your country!!! Now I can’t do the math to see if this adds up to 1.9 trillion. I fear this is not the package you were referring to after all. Oh well I am better informed about the going on in your country”
I thought long and hard about sending this reply off to the group. I slept on it. I stewed. I fretted. Wrote it out. Critiqued it. Considered its potential impact on the relationship with the writer. Then I wondered if perhaps my quandary wasn’t similar to the ‘Whole Truth” issue. Partial bits of information are not sufficient if the consequences lead to harm. When partial bits are used to allow people to misinform and lie to people even though it is presented as an innocuous passing thought. These ill-informed passing thoughts have proven in some realms, self-serving and in others to be dangerous.
Can it ever be as simple again as it was when I was that child itemizing how many lies, I needed to confess? Back then it was pretty clear what a lie was. It was something that didn’t tell the truth, the whole truth. There was no spin. I couldn’t justify lying to my brother about having eaten his chocolate bar because …. He had a paper route and could afford to buy another one…he didn’t let me play baseball with him and his buddies…. No, we were taught to own up to our actions and to take the consequences.
So, my decision is made. I will to try and address falsehoods when I know they are harmful. I will try to be more rigorous in obtaining facts. I will try to do better. I will uphold the ideals I was raised with. The truth matters.
The premier of our province was caught out in a lie about the amount of funding the province had received. Thank goodness for our local Winnipeg Free Press and excellent reporters. My letter to the editor, thanking them for the facts and informing the public and chastising the premier for his lies has been sent.
© 2021 Lori Tighe