Editorial Content: What’s Your Angle?

Strongly held opinions splashed across newspapers’ editorial pages lecture us about what we should think. This being the nation’s capital, it is the global epicenter of strongly held opinions. But, just because these philosophies are strongly held and aggressively promoted does not mean that they’re good or useful. We’ve seen example after example of agenda driven policy supported by those who brook no claim that they may be overlooking (or dare I suggest conveniently ignoring?) outcomes, impacts, or just plain old reality which might contravene the proponents’ agendas. As with so many things in life, it’s much easier to gain perspective when you’re not directly embroiled in an issue, way harder when you are the one pushing the point.


Part of what drives re-booters forward is an ongoing quest to increase our understanding, to see things more clearly, to appreciate the big picture of what’s going on around us. Asking questions and probing deeper into the nuances of our existence and relationships hinges on our willingness to revise our understanding and accept that, at times, we are just as likely to be wrong in our assessments as to be correct. It is this relentless curiosity and humility that enables us to make progress. But not everyone feels this way. To some, any form of backtracking or acknowledgement of error is far more threatening to their concept of self, and so, they dig in their heels and refuse to admit or even consider the possibility that they got it wrong.


Over the course of my life, I have been privileged to know more than my fair share of truly brilliant people. They far outrank me in terms of ability, curiosity, insight, energy, and wisdom and I like being around them because they make me stretch. What took me awhile to realize, however, is that just because they are blessed with these talents, does not mean that all such persons are intellectually honest. In fact, what I have witnessed is that certain individuals act (and think) as if they are interested in learning and pursuing wisdom when, in actuality, all they are doing is seeking out additional arguments or proof that they’re “right.” Genuine interest in having a fair and accurate understanding of a person or situation is not their goal.


This is what I mean by editorial content.


Of course, we each proceed through life with our own biases, sensitivities, and hang ups, but there’s an enormous gulf between those who grow to be aware of their particular weaknesses and work to overcome them versus those who refuse to be honest (with themselves, let alone anyone else) about their agendas. I consider narcissists to be the most egregious of this group, but it’s an equal opportunity field out there. When I first realized that not everyone is willing to reconsider their opinions or attitudes because doing so might risk their being shown in a poor light, I was shocked. Isn’t truth more important than appearance? Call me naïve, I know. In fact, over the years, I’ve come to conclude that there are far more people in the world who prefer not to examine their behavior, their responsibility for a poor outcome, or their wrong or unfair decisions than those folks who have the courage to do so. Case in point: Congress and the White House. As demonstrated repeatedly, each of these branches of government refuses to “stand down” from their intransigent positions. Even worse, to placate the voters, they employ the public relations’ guise of conducting investigations or interviewing relevant experts in order “to learn more.” What a joke. The way I see it, in nearly every case, what happens here in Washington is another round of Kabuki theater with foregone conclusions propped up by scraps of favorable testimonial evidence they can find or invent. Our elected leaders pick and choose and distort useful bits as additional ammunition with which to bolster their argument.


Ok, so back to re-booting. Where have you ignored inconvenient facts or patterns of behavior in order to continue on a particular path? Is it possible that, perhaps, you have glossed over one or two contrary indications because they interfered with your goal? And, if not you, surely you can think of people you know who do this. How’d that work out? Not too well, would be my bet because the truth always catches up with us, no matter how hard we try pretending it doesn’t exist. What happens with re-booters is that, often, we have ignored so much evidence that our lives implode. Despite our best efforts at shutting out editorial content we dislike, reality is rude enough to intrude. It certainly was the case for me; my carefully crafted glass palace shattered around my ears because I refused to examine or address the cracks that appeared in the foundation of my lovely creation. It was unstable from the start but I didn’t want to see it, so I looked the other way and kept my eyes focused on what bolstered my hopes, never mind those nagging suspicions.


The reason I am going on about this is to sound the alarm about how often people we respect and admire choose to cling fiercely to their editorial stance rather than experience the discomfort of acknowledging they may not have been honest about the situation at hand. The really devious ones run around and act as if they are interested in learning the truth, but they aren’t. All they seek is a way to prop up their old beliefs.


So, then, how editorialized is your content? Are you being honest with yourself?


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