“You must stick to your conviction, but prepare to abandon your assumptions.”~ Denis Waitley.
One of the first riddles I learned to tell was (and this is better spoken than written): “What is black and white and red (read) all over?” The answer was a newspaper. I grew up in a household that read newspapers religiously. They were the most reliable and inexpensive form of information and entertainment. In Jamaica the Sunday Gleaner provided a weekly dose of laughter in the form of the Sunday comics, in color, with Andy Capp and Maggie. In later years the Miami Herald provided us with our daily perspective of what was happening in the world. Sunday brought not only colorful comics, but a wonderful magazine, Tropic. I often dreamed of being published in Tropic.
We often forget how dependent we were on print journalism before the advent of cable TV and the wall to wall coverage of every sneeze that takes place in the world. We would read opinion pages and editorials, but we mostly drew our own conclusions, once we were provided with what we hoped was unbiased coverage of events. My favorite memories are of coming home after a hard day’s work, sitting at the table with a cup of coffee and the Miami Herald, one kid on my lap, the other squeezed between my back and the chair, both of them thumb suckers, one was a hair twirler (my hair of course!).
In this age of wall to wall coverage of events, nonstop opinions and talking heads, how do we get back to sifting through to the truth? It is tempting to believe those things that support our preconvictions, our assumptions, and ignore anything which is not congruent with our inner values. Good journalism is supposed to present us with the facts, but this gets lost in the chatter about fake news. There are journalists who risk their lives to go to parts of the world that you should never visit. There are ordinary citizens who point cameras and videos at atrocities to be sure that the world can see what they are living. There are little people like Anne Frank whose diary gave us insight into the horrors of life under German occupation. Then there is Bana, a seven year old Syrian girl tweeted out accounts of her life in Aleppo (it is uncertain if she and her family are still alive).
We take so much for granted, in this day and age of information. If it were not for investigative journalists we would not have known about Watergate. At the moment there is so much going on, so many light shows to distract us, it is up to the maligned journalists to keep plodding on despite the stones thrown their way, to shed light on those things which are hidden, those threads which when followed can lead to a great unraveling.
Recently I realized that we have a responsibility to share, to provide information. You may not be aware that you are an expert in a particular field, but if it is an area that someone else has no experience, you may be able to shed some light for them. I recently heard of a situation in which a daughter was concerned about her mother’s health. The mother had end-stage heart disease, and was going around from doctor to doctor, trying to get help for different symptoms. Her quality of life was deteriorating, and the family was having great difficulty providing for her needs. When I suggested Hospice, my friend was surprised. She thought of Hospice as being for people who only had a short time to live. Unfortunately many of us are not aware that Hospice offers a great deal of help for people with a terminal disease (dementia is another terminal disease that we may not think of) and a prognosis of up to six months. The Hospice staff make house calls, they manage symptoms in a one-stop way; they provide social workers, chaplains, care givers, nurses, and even provide ‘respite’ care, a way for the family to get a break. If you don’t know…
Another friend needed advice about health care surrogacy, living wills, end-of-life issues. For those of us who have worked in the health care field, we assume that everyone knows what we know. We forget that most people only have to deal with these situations when an unexpected event occurs. We forget that many of us do not do pre-planning, whether it is for ourselves or our parents (if they are still around).
I remember going to a funeral with my friend, the lady lawyer. She was approached every few minutes by someone wanting a quick consultation, a follow up on a question, a spontaneous: while I see you here, let me ask you…We rely on the expertise of others, but in some cases, it requires a sit down (paid for) session!
We all can’t know everything. Although there are some people who would have you believe differently! We all know those people who have an opinion on everything and speak as if they alone are the ones with the truth. But even though it is good to research for yourself, at times we need those who do the work for us. To be a good consumer we need to keep our minds open to the other sides of the story, to listen to a wide range of perspectives, before making assumptions.
This Friday morning I hope you are maintaining your sanity in this crazy world. I hope you challenge your assumptions, to be sure you are not propagating falsehoods or sharing shaky stories. Be sure to check your sources, and stay positive. We can find good in anyone (and we are not all good ourselves!) if we look deep enough.
Have a wonderful weekend Family!