You’re Not Always the Decider

You’re Not Always the Decider June 10, 2014

The Timothy McVeigh trial was difficult for me.

I won’t go into all the things I thought and felt. They are too private. But I will say that it engaged me and put me through a considerable emotional torque. Ditto for his execution.

One thought allowed me to maintain an even strain through that experience: I didn’t sit on that that jury, could in no way ever be asked to sit on that jury, and that meant I didn’t have to decide. 

Maybe it’s because I spent so many years in a job where I had no choice about deciding — and taking the consequences of those decisions. I know first hand that having to decide is not all that great. In fact, it can be one of the most miserable things that ever happens to you.

Perhaps that’s why I find such peace in looking at each new faux outrage that is being hyped on our news-free news stations with the simple knowledge that I don’t have to decide. Should his wife leave him because of his infidelities? That’s her call. I don’t have to decide. What did he know and when did he know it? I’m not on that jury. I don’t have to decide. Is this person more evil than that person? Was the jury right?

I don’t have to decide.

People who are so eager to decide often don’t realize that deciding is not all that easy when you actually have to do it. It’s ez-pz to declaim while sitting on your sofa that I woulda/they shoulda/how come they didn’t? But in real life, the whole thing is more nuanced and difficult by powers of ten.

In the first place, what passes for news these days is not news. It’s just sensation-creating entertainment and public-opinion-shaping propaganda. What that means, in layman’s terms, is that you can’t believe it. The one thing you know when you are watching agenda-driven/side-taking/propaganda-ridden “news” is that you are not getting anything like a fair presentation of the facts.

These news people have taken a side, and they are presenting the facts (such as they are) which will support that side. They are not informing you at all. They are convincing you. They want you to decide, and they want your decision to be the one that will benefit the “side” that they have taken on the story.

To make things worse, they are operating from a long-term agenda. This shaping of the way they cover events isn’t based on a one-off I-like-this-person, or I-feel-sympathetic-to-that-viewpoint kind of approach. It is part of a long-term arc of bias that consistently shapes every story and decides which stories are to be covered based on how they support the agenda that the news network is putting forth.

Hence, you have “liberal” news outlets, and “conservative” news outlets. Everyone knows it and even the news outlets themselves acknowledge it.

Think about that. They tell you right up front that the “news” they are serving up is biased toward one viewpoint or the other. You know going in that you are not going to hear the truth or all the facts or even all the stories that comprise legitimate news. You know when you flip to a certain channel that you will get a predigested dose of propaganda that is designed to serve one set of political puppeteers or the other.

So why, my friends, do you allow them to get you upset? Why are you all in a lather about the “facts” they’ve given you, when you know — and I mean absolutely know — that these facts have been edited, massaged and carefully chosen to shape your thinking rather than inform it?

The only saving grace in this is that you don’t have to decide. You can, and for your sanity you should, sit back and let them rant without allowing yourself to be hooked into ranting yourself. Because it’s not your call. You can’t decide.

And that, if you will accept it, is a sanity-saving blessing.

There are plenty of things that each one of us has to decide in this life. If you are really feeling the desire to make decisions for many other people and you think you have a calling to it, I suggest you run for office. I am saying that sincerely. We need, desperately, to have honest people who can’t be bought or controlled in public office. I do not care if you are an R, a D, or an Independent. If you’ve got the spine it takes — and you would be shocked what a strong spine is required — to go into that arena and stand firm, then by all means, do it.

But be forewarned. It’s not all pretty inside those halls of power. If you truly go in there and do what you think is right, you’re going to take a beating.

As for those of us who sit on the sidelines and watch, our job is to help the honest ones survive that beating.

And to not allow ourselves to be blown around like chaff in the wind by the propagandists who are callously trying to use what they call news to persuade us to support them in their own ends. Just sit back and watch. And remember two things: They are trying to persuade you, not inform you. And you don’t have to decide.

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14 responses to “You’re Not Always the Decider”

  1. Exactly. I turned off tv over two years ago. The news is fully scripted and doctored entertainment pre sold advertising and tounge in check truth with the combatants high fiving each other after the show.

  2. I’ve taken a big step back from following the “news” in the past few weeks (about the time you left office), and my sense of humor has been greatly improved. I don’t intend to avoid all news, but most of it is so counterproductive to sanity and I have no ability to effect the outcome of the Serious Matters being discussed. As for public office, I once had a chap suggest I run, but I know myself well enough to know that, sadly, I do not have either the spine or the stomach for the meat grinder (assuming I could stand it long enough to even get elected dog catcher). I kinda wish otherwise, but wishing God had made you a Tigress when He created you a nice Rhode Island Red doesn’t honor Him or change out your feathers for fangs. 😉

      • Well… my personality type HAS been described as the iron fist in the velvet glove… 😉 Since I highly value peace, I will accept a lot of nonsense to keep it, particularly when I think nothing is to be gained in sacrificing it. But if cornered, yes, I do have a backbone and a very clear inner compass on most matters. Leading others is just not something I’ve ever aspired to, outside of a very small setting. And getting tarred and feathered doesn’t sound good to me. 😉

  3. I usually have no problem making most decisions, but there are some areas where I feel my leftward ideals really don’t work. One example is entitlements. Another extending First Amendment protections to Islam. A part of me wants to be tolerant and inclusive. The other part of me tells me not to be tolerant and inclusive with a religion that is in itself neither tolerant nor inclusive. I fear that my fellow liberals have no idea of the threat to our freedom posed by granting freedom of religion in all cases. I would much rather change it to freedom from religion and ban mosques and other footholds into our freedom.

      • Freedom from religion would be seen by some as a loss of a freedom, too. It’s what I would prefer over having to grant freedom of religion to Muslims. Their whole system of beliefs is geared at imposing sharia law everywhere they go.

        • You know Bill, I’m getting kind of tired of people coming on this blog and using Islam for the universal hate object to make a point. That’s bigoted, too.

          • “Hate” is too strong a word for my misgivings about Islam. What I am saying is that my leftist philosophies about tolerance leave me uncertain about things like entitlements and allowing the potential for Shariah Law to gain a foothold here as it has in Europe. That doesn’t make me a hater.

          • Actually, events in India show that Hinduism can be just as lethal. What nobody is reporting about the continuous assaults on women and women-murders is the caste context. When the father of the two girls who were raped and hanged tried to get the police interested in their disappearance, the local policeman looked at him and asked “what caste are you”? Even where it is not reported, I would bet my right hand that most of these horrors have a subtext of caste prejudice, especially against uppity upwardly mobile, educated Dalit (pariah) women.

    • You have my sympathies on this one. Militant Islam is a real threat to us all. But as much as I might wish we could simply ban it, that isn’t tenable. Both because of our 1st amendment and because it would likely just make its Forbiddenness a bigger draw to the angry young men (and some VERY foolish women!) who seek to be Powerful instead of ordinary. Education on the true nature of these nut job Imams and their teachings is a much better approach. Sadly, you are right that the Left wants to be Inclusive, and here that has meant overlooking a lot of evil and even sweeping it under the rug, instead of shining a light on it. Evil always thrives when it can stay in the shadows. 🙁

  4. There is corollary to this, one that comes with getting older. We have been though changes before and can feel the changing but know that we will not ever see the effects.

  5. “carefully chosen to shape your thinking rather than inform it?”

    Excellent especially this part about the facts being carefully chosen; when i was much younger it took me a while to figure out that both left and right news outlets weren’t lying to me directly but were just presenting only those facts that supported their views; it seems trivial now but at the time it was a bit of an epiphany. I’ve sometimes encouraged my friends, just for basic interest reasons, to read coverage of the exact same event or story in the papers known for their agendas and then to compare and stare in amazement at how both tell the truth but both don’t tell quite all of the truth.

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