Recently, I had a friend send me an email asking me my opinion of it. It was one of those ubiquitous emails that get forwarded and forwarded and forwarded, virally passing along its contents without anyone stopping to say “is this true?”.
Although this particular email was one that was disparaging President Obama and forwarded on by those on the right who obviously were not fans of the President, I have equally seen similar ones circulated by those on the left passing along things that were untrue about Republicans.
In just a few minutes, I was able to do a quick internet search and determine that whoever had originated the email had falsified what was being presented. The original email was a flat out lie which had been generated to create the sense that this lie was the truth in the minds of the email’s recipients. I always wonder about the ethics of the individuals who create these kinds of emails well aware of what they were doing. The web site http://www.snopes.com/ is invaluable for checking these email rumors out.
Everyone else in the chain of passing it along all the way to my friend had assumed the note to be true and had passed it along to friends, until my friend stopped the chain and asked me my opinion. I let him know that the contents were not true and gave him the web link to verify that fact. But then I felt compelled to add in my reply to him what I thought was the bigger issue here for all of us…..that is……
What kind of country do we want to live in?…… and here is an edited version of my thoughts:
Personally, I want us to live in a country that values the diversity of opinions and honors even the person who believes differently from ourselves. I want to live in a country where we can believe different things without having our differences lead to us disliking the person who doesn’t think like we think. Our great country was built on a system of honoring this diversity.
There has been a greater and greater degree of activities such as this false email from both the right and the left to “prove” that their views are “correct” and that others are “wrong”. This type of action only serves to create more divisiveness in our country rather than to bring us together. It truly saddens me to see this type of thing no matter which side of the political spectrum it originates.
So many people simply pass these things on because it “fits” their beliefs and they don’t take a moment to say “is this true?” or “what benefit is being gained by my passing this along?” Rather we think “I knew it”, feel somewhat righteous about our knowledge and judgment, and then pass the email along to our friends who “think as we think” and the cycle of negativity continues.
I would love to see a world where we let the power of our wonderful democracy place people in office who then went about their charge as given to them by the American people without having to deal with the continuous effort by others to attack them on any and every issue they can possibly muster.
Our country faces some tremendous challenges. The wars, the economy, the foreclosures, the growing deficits, the looming financial crisis in Medicare and Social Security, climate change, the lack of basic health coverage for everyone and on and on are some concerns that I would love our country come together on, using the best minds and ideas to create solutions that work for everyone.
This is not the time for small minded individuals to dwell upon such trivial and generally untrue issues that constantly get thrown at the President. False issues such as the whole birth certificate thing, whether Obama’s hand is over his heart or not at points during public ceremonies, creating controversy about his wanting to encourage students to work hard and on and on….it truly raises questions in my mind about the intentions of people who insist on dwelling on such things. I would ask those individuals to consider what their real intentions are in passing along things that only serve to divide us as a people and work to foster distrust and dislike. Is this truly what they want? In my heart, I don’t think so. I think they many us of pass things along or raise such issues without thinking of the bigger consequences beyond the issue.
I’m not saying one can’t disagree with the President. I certainly don’t agree with everything he has done. But I do say, let’s focus on the real issues and the best way to solve them. Let’s agree to disagree on the details when necessary.
So to be specific, what can we do?
First, let’s you and I work to change our own thinking so that we value differences of opinions and see the good in everybody (from the President or whomever we may disagree and on to the people who originated this false email and ultimately on to everyone). Our sense of care and concern needs to expand to include everyone and see our commonness in humanity first before we concern ourselves with the differences of our opinions.
Secondly, let’s do what we can to redirect the attention and focus of people towards the direction that we want to go as humanity (peace, ecological balance, basic level of living security for everyone, health care access for all, and so on) and away from thinking that does not serve us (spreading hate and rumors, attacking people because they are different, etc.).
When we get emails such as this, let’s check the truth and check our intentions before we pass them along. And, when we find that they are untrue, such as this one, let’s let the ones who sent us the email know so that they might consider correcting any false impressions that they served to create.
We may disagree on the details of how to get where we need to go but I truly believe that in our hearts we know that dishonoring others and spreading hate rather than love is not where we want to live.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!