Before You Speak Walk A Mile In Their Shoes

It annoys me that I have to get my relatively unbiased news from BBC World News. (No offense to my friends across the pond.)  I live in the United States. I should be able turn on the radio or television here and get the facts. But NPR is very liberal. And Talk Radio is sooooo conservative. Fox News is not “fair and balanced.” It’s loud (all they do is shout!) and conservative. And CNN is continually being criticized for liberal editorializing. Just give me the facts, Ma’am.

About a year ago, I saw a political analyst on television critiquing our presidents over the last 50 years. (I’m sorry. For the life of me I can’t remember his name to give him full credit.) Good president or bad president, he seemed to give both democrats and republicans a fair shake. But he said something that really struck me about George W. Bush. He said that it’s going to be another 50 years before we can accurately evaluate his presidency. That, unfortunately, his entire presidency was colored by 9/11. Just eight months in office and he had to completely switch gears and deal with the most horrific act of terrorism on U.S. soil. From that moment on, every other goal President Bush had in mind was re-organized, re-categorized, re-prioritized. Having to make such a dramatic shift, having to put so much energy into keeping our country safe, surely other important issues suffered. It is difficult to criticize someone if we haven’t walked in their shoes.

And just this morning, I heard on the BBC, President Obama will be making a decision about our troops in Afghanistan. And none, I repeat NONE, of the four options involved taking troops out. ALL four options include bringing more troops in. And closing Guantanamo? Ain’t gonna happen any time soon. Nobody, and I mean nobody in the entire world, wants ‘em. So to all of you disillusioned Obama supporters out there – it’s been less than a year. The man has a big job to do. We can’t criticize a man unless we’ve walked in his shoes.

I’m annoyed with how difficult it is to sort through the rhetoric to find undistorted fact. It is so easy to point fingers and blame. But maybe that’s our job to do. Maybe it is supposed to be difficult. In all of my sifting and searching and questioning I’ve come away with a much greater respect for what our world leaders are faced with and how truly difficult their job is to do. Think of the mother that is told that one of her four children is dying of leukemia and how that will instantly change how she parents EACH of her four children. Something so tragic that will color her entire job as mother. Or think of how any of us would react or do things differently if suddenly we were forced to lead in the rebuilding of a school or community that was touched with tragedy. Think Columbine. Each of our parenting and leadership styles are different. But we all have a common goal. And it would be pretty difficult for one of your neighbors to criticize any of your decisions not having walked in your shoes and seen what you’ve seen.

(While writing this post I found a very interesting site that seems pretty fact oriented about the Obama Presidency — PolitiFact.com — http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/)

(P.S. Don’t forget about our get together tomorrow Friday, November 13th. Collect the craziest search terms for your blog and we’ll all share them tomorrow!  You can write them in the comment section or blog about it – but don’t forget to link/comment here so we can all see them! See you tomorrow! I can’t wait!)

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “Before You Speak Walk A Mile In Their Shoes

  1. I respect how fair you are.
    This whole Afghanistan thing is so hard. I don’t want another soldier to lose his or her life. Are we making a difference? How soon after we do leave will it fall apart? You’re right; so little good information.

  2. The thing about Bush and let’s give him 50 years before history makes its judgment always rings a bit hollow for me. Perhaps in 50 years he’ll be held in higher regard than he is now. Then again, maybe he won’t. There might be some skosh of validity to the point but the subtlety of it makes me think, “Bleh.”

    Speaking of FOX News, did you see the bit about Sean Hannity faking some footage to make a tea party turn out look bigger than it really was? Why can’t people just stick with the truth? (That’s not rhetorical. The answer is because lies work.)

    The press likes to take any dangling thread and call it a majestic tapestry. They find a guy on the street who has changed his mind about Obama and suddenly there is the huge wave of “disillusionment” sweeping the nation. Yeah, right. All of the Obama supporters I know still support him. I don’t agree with everything he’s done but all in all I’m happy with him, still support him, and I’d vote for him again. Especially in light of the insanely bitter opposition he has to deal with. His recent speech about ending “don’t ask don’t tell” really notched up my respect for the man.

    And I do really agree with your bit about empathy. That’s something we should all try to remember, and trying to be not so quick to judge and make snap assumptions.

  3. This post rang very true for me. Especially the “lack of unbias information” part. Even after doing all my research and thinking I have the facts and then making my stance/argument…..I have been blasted by others and their “facts” that totally contradict mine which I never heard of or read. Makes it very difficult and frustrating to try and be an engaged citizen!

  4. I wonder whether those who are now so quickly disillusioned were more influenced to vote for him by that huge ‘tide of change’ thing that was going on, than by actually considering the politics, policies and implications. I’ve maintained for quite some time that whilst Bush may not go down as one of the best US Presidents, he almost certainly wasn’t as dumb as he was sometimes made to appear. Political decisions cannot be seen as black and white, there are always grey areas – pros and cons have to be weighed up (national + international interests + how much co-operation / opposition one can expect from other nations). The best any leader can do is to make an informed judgement (and let’s not forget that there is always a huge team of advisers in the background). It’s awfully easy to talk about a Utopian world of peace and harmony – and it’s definitely a vote grabber. It’s a whole lot harder to achieve it.

  5. Steven Harris

    The BBC is actually always being criticised in this country, but generally by politicians. Whichever political party is in power it seems that they are honour-bound to accuse the BBC of bias in favour of the other main political party. And if that other party should come to power? Well then they suddenly feel the BBC is against them and for the party which has just left government. Perhaps it’s just true what you say – the BBC tells it like it is as much as it can. And thank goodness for that.

    • Maybe it just appears unbiased here because the BBC doesn’t have a vested interest in pleasing one group of people over the other when reporting on U.S. matters. What I LOVE about the BBC is that they acknowledge that there is a world beyond their borders worth reporting on. If I want to hear anything beyond the U.S. (that isn’t a quick 15 second sound bite) I have to listen to the BBC. So sad. We Americans can be so self-centered.

  6. My husband and I constantly rail against the news in this country. The BBC is really the only fair source to get news from, in my opinion. The others are DRECK.

  7. Funny, we’re fans of BBC news, also. However, I do like NPR–especially Diane Rehm Show. She makes a real effort to have differing points of view represented, not by ideologues parroting along strict lines, but having reasonable discussions about issues.

    Husband and I are convinced that cable news shows are a curse (was planning to blog about that!) Isn’t it odd that Jon Stewart is recognized as one of the most trustworthy ‘newscasters’?! I’m always surprised at some of the things I see on his show before the networks report them. Shame on the networks!

    Just today I heard CNBC people discussing that burdens of office are causing Obama to lose weight. They referred to him as “healthy”–and were promptly criticized for doing so “because he’s a smoker.” ARRRGGGHHH!!!

  8. Very well said! And I too appreciate your striving to be fair, to see things from all possible perspectives. I did stop apologizing for being an NPR listener and a Rachel Maddow fan a while back ago, partly because I get my BBC World News from NPR, and I too view it as a more trustworthy source. I once heard on, surprise, NPR that in the UK the rules pertaining to journalistic programs prohibit the so-called news reporters from taking sides, i.e. cable news hosts such as Glenn Beck would not be able to make one-sided statements the way they are doing now in the US. We don’t have cable at home so I am missing all the fun I guess…

  9. I really appreciated this post. I also agree that a lot of the media in America reigns in the extreme. I used to listen to NPR, and then got turned off by how liberal it is.
    And I really do not like it when people trash our presidents, just because of a few mistakes, without viewing the picture as a whole and considering other factors as well. Well said about Bush.

    • I know. In one of the past few elections (I’m not going to say which one so don’t ask) my candidate didn’t win. I heard one of my children say “we don’t like him.” I jumped very quickly and said, “No! He is OUR president now. He may not have been my first choice but we are all on the same team. And he deserves our support and respect.”

  10. I guess I shouldn’t bother recommending MSNBC :)
    Have you watched the news program on PBS though? I think they’re fairly unbiased

  11. I grew up in a time when the President was the head of our country the way a father is the head of the family. He could do no wrong and he would keep us safe. Then I grew up and realized that the President is just a guy trying to do his job the best he can. Mistakes are inevitable. It’s not about wither or not he makes them but how he handles it when he does that decides if he is a good president or not.

  12. Kristin

    Wow, such wonderful comments to a wonderful post! This issue has frustrated me greatly since the advent of the internet; it is almost impossible to research a topic online and find one factual answer. I remember as a child that news reporting by the media was far more objective and fact-based than it is now. And as a whole, people respected their Presidents more, even if he wasn’t the candidate they voted for.

  13. Hi, Jane. . . it’s Miz Buttinsky again. Should have mentioned that on Friday nights on PBS news they have the best commentary on television: Mark Shields and David Brooks talk about the week in a thoughtful way. This is the kind of discussion Diane Rehm has on her show. Oh–if you can’t find hers on radio, you can listen online.

    There’s also Charlie Rose Show on PBS. I can’t stay awake for it though. :)

    • Thanks for the suggestions! And no, you’re not a buttinsky! We have TiVo so even if any of the shows you mentioned are at inconvenient times I can just tape them. Thanks for thinking of me! ~Jane

  14. But it’s so easy to throw stones.

  15. Pingback: I Comment, Therefore I Am « AC's Scrapbook

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