Opinion Overload

75930bdb1a193f5d6c559230fa01b1baAs I type this, Tom Brokaw is on the nightly news talking about the disastrous results that have come as a result of marginalizing entire groups of people throughout history. He is not giving his opinion on any of it. He went old school journalism and reported facts. This is a rare find today on any news channel. I was a journalism student for a time when I was younger. My journalism teacher always reminded us that good reporting included only facts. She was like a broken record. The majority of my fellow students and I could attest to her insistence on this rule. Our columns had the red pen marks to prove it. Each time any inkling of opinion appeared in our rough drafts, the red pen came out.

I learned from her that news is who, what, why, when and how. Answer those five questions and your work was acceptable for print. I imagine that if she were alive today, she may have developed a twitch by now. Editorial pieces were reserved for the opinion page and were taken as such. Strictly the opinion of the writer. There was a time when we knew the difference between fact and opinion and accepted each as their own. With the advent of 24 hour news this line has all but been obliterated. There has to be something to fill the other 22 hours of the day.

I believe that it is safe to say many have lost the ability to differentiate between the two. I sit dumbfounded by much of what I hear on television and read on Facebook. Pick a topic, any topic. The obvious place to start is with the candidate who has proclaimed his plan to ban all member of a certain religious group from our country as a safety precaution. Does this sound wrong to anyone else? It does to me for a myriad of reasons. However, despite the obvious problems with this plan, namely our Constitution, there are those who whole heartedly agree that this is a great idea. For safety’s sake of course.

I cannot believe for one minute that anyone would think this exclusion should be allowed, let alone championed, in this country. If the shoe was on the other foot of those who support this idea, what the reaction would be? As a gay person, I have frequently dealt with being the subject of the exclusion sentence. Same sex marriage is just one obvious example. I am well aware of the continuous challenges the LGBT community faces everyday on many fronts. Honestly, on some days I am not sure there is a huge difference between ISIL and the groups, and candidates who are aligning with them, which are rallying their followers to kill gays and lesbians. No one seems to be batting an eye or finding this rationale problematic.

As hard as I try to remain neutral and unaffected by the swirling opinions, sometimes it is all too much to stomach. Facts become secondary and more likely to be dismissed when an expression of opinion includes an emotional response. That seems like the more popular approach lately. This emotion is confused with passion and conviction. What emerges is a situation where facts are more readily disputed and dismissed and opinions become the truth for those who are uninformed, ignorant, or plain scared. To clarify. LGBT people are humans, who can be any number of religions, is a statement of fact. LGBT people are disordered, not normal, and should not be allowed the rights of everyone else is an opinion. See the difference? Not many do.

Humor me as I play devil’s advocate for a moment. Muslims are on the hot seat right now. Swap out the term Muslim and insert the word Christian. What would that reaction look like? How many brains would explode? And rightly so. I can tell you that there would be a twenty first century version of the crusades in full force. This is already happening. Freedom for all is not possible if freedom is limited for a single person. If you are not a believer in the idea that what one fears, one creates, I suggest you look into it further. Examine the amount of times in your life that fear created a positive outcome. I bet there are few to speak of.

We all want to be safe. I know I do. In the past few weeks I have been experiencing many moments of anger and sadness simultaneously. I am angry that so many out there are supporting this idea. I am sad because I know fear is at the heart of the support. When fear is running the show, our reactions rule. Fight or flight is everywhere and for those who cannot fly, the fear based fight is the second choice. Fear breeds hate and chaos. Fear is the absence of love. This has never been more evident that right at this time in history.

The answer to overcoming evil in our world is not arming ourselves to the teeth or calling for the a ban of certain groups of people from our country. That would be the epitome of giving in to fear. Just to be clear, I am personally not a fan of weapons, but I do think those who want to own them should be able to. To each their own. I know many who are gun owners and respect their right to own them. They are conscientious about safety and are not out running around waving them at the grocery store. They are not including them in their family Christmas card photos. To my knowledge, no one from the government has knocked on their door and taken the guns away from them, which is something that apparently is a very big perceived threat. You all know what I am talking about.

Until we take a deep breath and make separating emotional reactions and opinions from facts a priority, I suspect that nothing will improve any time soon. Yoda said it best. Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. In the spirit of Master Yoda, I will remember this week to love everyone who I may want to throttle in the head, be accepting of those who I do not agree with, and remain committed to peace in my own heart. I hope you will do the same.