Instant nonstop television, radio and Internet news coverage seems to encourage a flood of equally instantaneous judgment from listeners and viewers. At least that’s what it looks like to me when I look at the comment sections on Internet sources, read the letters page of the local paper, or, on rare occasion, listen to call in responses on radio.
I try to keep up with the local news in two communities several thousand miles apart. Recent tragedies in each have unleashed a blizzard of calls for heads to roll as commentators have asserted sweeping accusations of guilt based on a headline or two and a smattering of unverified third hand information. Tragedies bring out the worst, but almost any event that reaches the public eye does the same.
The same thing happens in the greater arena of national and international news. The rush of juveniles coming from Central American across our southern border is an example. As soon as reports were made public, comments and letters had, without fear of contradiction, analyzed the situation, assigned blame, and asserted their own brand of (often very mean spirited and selfish) righteousness. Based on what? Not much! The curious thing is that most of the response seem to assume that someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong. It’s a simple as that. But complicated situations don’t have those kinds of simple I’m right and you’re wrong answers. They have to be understood, and understanding doesn’t always bring definitive answers, only ways to move forward toward something better.
Pick a situation anywhere in the world that has reached the public eye, and we will leap to conclusions of right, wrong and blame, thrust our collective chins forward, wipe our hands, and declare ‘So There’! That’s too bad. It’s nothing to be proud of.