Opinions, Thoughts, and Facts

10/18/2014    dwm photo
It's easy to get caught in deciding what the prevailing opinion is on a given subject.

Maybe talk to 3 or 4 people and ask what they think.  If it turns out they agree, well - "everyone says such-and-such!"

Judging by what I read, that seems to be happening more often.  Listen to a talk show and you can be lead to believe everyone wants the coach needs to be fired, the player benched, or the draft pick traded.  In the political world these days, it skews both ways.

Ardent supporters seem to believe their guy walks on water; die-hard opponents think he's wearing concrete boots.

In the United States, we can each reach our own opinion. We can change our mind.

Disturbing commentary can be heard from each side of the debate when one side dismisses the other as idiots or declare they should get in line or go home.

Opinions can take on lives of their own.  If everyone in my Facebook agrees with my opinion, I must be right.  Enough of us agree, we can feel pretty good about our "rightness" and shove it in the faces of those who disagree.

Somehow, and I tend to think our instant information age is involved, we can get the same sense about facts.

A couple things about facts.  Right now the term seems to be in flux.  A high-ranking government official coined the term, "alternative facts," in a pointless argument about attendance at the inauguration.

(The phrase, alternative facts is an interesting creation.  My mom would have called it a lie.)

In reporting, facts or reliable reports are made with two or more independent sources that agree with a version of events.  Facts can't be defined by somebody shouting their version of the story louder than anybody else.

In some cases, facts and beliefs are used interchangeably.  Something I believe is true to me, even if I can't show it to be a fact.  A proven fact doesn't need parties agreeing to its existence.

Gravity, for example, is a fact.  You don't need to believe a dropped pencil is going to hit the floor.

During the NBA All-Star game last month, one star seemed to speculate the world is flat.  I never heard what his motivation was in making such a statement.  I read he just hadn't seen proof the earth is, well, a globe.

It's all very disturbing and taking apart our political and social environment.

It's perfectly acceptable for our opinions to differ.  At our best, those opinions are sifted out to find the best solution.  At our worst, our opinions are twisted into facts of our own choosing and used to defeat and destroy our fellow citizens who may disagree.

This is not progress.

I have to believe most of the men and women serving our country - whether elected public servants, those appointed, or the countless number of civil servants - want to serve the country above all.

Declaring war on our fellow Americans or creating straw-men as the reason for our situation, so we have some one to blame is political cowardice.

We should be better than this, America.

It would be nice to see some level-headed, real patriots to stand up and be counted.

There are a lot of people who would love to see it happen.