It seems lately that there has been an explosion of “fake news” or people fact-checking others. While it’s true that American politics of late has raised this topic to what may seem to be fever pitch, the existence of opinion-based ‘facts’ is a centuries old strategy.
While many Americans today seem caught up in an increasingly polarized debate over who’s right, wrong, or even the facts, the strategy of conflating opinions or values with information is the very root of control. Yes, I said control. For ages, those who seek to control others have twisted facts and relied upon people’s ignorance as a means of maintaining control.
For example, the Church for centuries maintained the Latin texts insisting that the illiterate poor were incapable of interpreting Scriptures for themselves. It was the responsibility of the chosen few to tell the masses what they needed to know, believe, and how to behave. It wasn’t until Martin Luther and the eventual availability of Scripture in native language that people started developing their own sense of what to believe. Even then, the Church maintained the Latin mass until the 20th Century believing its secrets were not meant for the commoner.
An awakened populace is a direct threat to those who are in control. Whether it’s Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, or any other group of people, controlling the narrative is the most powerful tool available. The unfortunate fact is that we are creating an entire population who no longer can truly think for themselves. Taking in a daily dose of whatever flavor of information they prefer, it’s like being addicted. Instead of questioning and discerning, it’s simply drinking down the Kool-Aid without question. You may recall Jonestown as an extreme example of what happens when the dialog is controlled by a few.
So what can you personally do? First, you can seek to always start with the facts. Facts are observables without judgment. Unfortunately in today’s world, finding sources of facts without someone’s opinion injected into them is increasingly difficult. One way therefore to discern the facts is to search broadly with resources that include opposing or differing views. For example, I read Scripture as well as metaphysical and other sacred texts. When I see common elements emerging, I know I’m on the trail of facts. With news (which I endeavor to avoid particularly political topics), I will read from a wide range of sources from multiple perspectives. As most have learned, the major news outlets today no longer offer facts.
Another approach is to focus on non-judgment. In other words, can you evaluate something without drawing a conclusion or asserting some type of value to it? This is the Buddhist path where something is neither right nor wrong, it simply is. When you can sit with something without becoming irritated, angry, or profane about it, you can learn to see the multiple perspectives. I know and dearly love people who hold very strong political views, yet I have learned to be with them and continue to love them without labeling them or assuming they are irrational or wrong.
Finally, search your heart. When you are heart-centered, it becomes easier to embrace differences and find joy in them. The heart is the center of love, so don’t confuse values with heart. You may feel very strongly about something such as LGBT equality, yet your words or actions can still be filled with hate or anger. This is not heart-centered love. Instead it is simply the filter through which you consume and process the world. Heart-centered living seeks to always be loving even when we intensely disagree with another. Using labels or calling other people (or groups) by profane names is the furthest from heart you can get.
So my challenge is for you to always seek the facts and try to ignore the opinion. Search your heart and know what is true for you but do so without judging those who don’t share your perspective. Question everything you hear and ask yourself if it is heart-centered and loving or destructive. Work on developing the ability to look at facts without emotion and develop skills to pressure test what you hear. Lastly, challenge yourself to reach beyond the opinion-based resources you’re most comfortable with. Remember the old adage not to judge someone unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. While it can be uncomfortable (I can attest to that) to have your values challenged, in the end you’ll be better informed for it and perhaps a bit more empathetic to those you don’t see eye-to-eye with.
I believe in the transformative power of human connection to elevate joy, restore balance, and support inner healing as you seek your highest purpose. My purpose in life is to be a guide, to share the wisdom of the Universe I’ve been gifted with, and to see others succeed. Nothing brings me greater joy than to see others step into their purpose in a vibrant and highly energetic way.
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