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Commentary

Which News? The Sources You Trust Define Your Reality

Tue, January 05, 2021   |   Author: Taylor   |   Volume 28    Issue 1 | Share: Gab | Facebook | Twitter   

2021 has arrived! The dramatic changes that have taken place in our social interactions, in our economy and in our conduct of elections and worship services in 2020 have created some anxiety about the future and our ability as a society to deal with unexpected challenges. It is essential, if Western democratic institutions are to survive, that we find ways to understand current events and respond to them wisely and with as little fracturing of our society as possible.

History is unfolding before our eyes. To a greater or lesser extent, we who are alive today are writing the details of tomorrow’s history. A few individuals may have prominent public roles, like that of Winston Churchill during WW2. Others are the moms and dads, the science professors, the Sunday School teachers who influence the moral and social development of a young person who may later become a political leader, a great scientist, or a missionary and whose actions might affect the lives of thousands. Their names may never be recorded in the history books of the future but their impact on nations and cultures is no less profound.

What we believe as individuals affects our actions. What we see, hear, and read are the building blocks of what we believe. Properly interpreting the things we see, hear, and read is crucial for correctly understanding the world we live in and the events taking place around us. Only when we see clearly the things taking place and interpret those events with a biblical understanding, can we make proper judgments and adjust our actions to create benefit for future generations or help our fellow-citizens avoid pitfalls and dangers.

Even when two people see the same event, they may describe it differently. They may have different reactions to the event. They may ascribe different causes to the event. Multiple witnesses to a two-car collision often see things differently. One may blame one driver, while another witness may blame the other. They base their conclusions on what they saw: the angle from which they saw it, their proximity, their experience as drivers. They may sincerely believe the things they say, but if their stories differ, they can’t all be right. Sorting out different perspectives and coming to an accurate assessment of the facts is not always easy.

The true history of the world would be a perfectly accurate record of past events. Unfortunately, many of the “historical” records we rely on are not completely accurate. In fact, not only our history books but also our daily newspapers and magazines are filled with half-truths, personal interpretations and opinions masquerading as facts. Depending on who writes a news story, the same facts can be interpreted to reflect a positive or negative spin on a particular person, policy or event. In today’s cyber-culture, even the facts are in dispute and the interpretation of those facts is subject to an array of factors that result in conclusions so diverse that good citizens—who all care deeply about this nation—find themselves in serious conflict about solving problems.

As we step into 2021, we Canadians find ourselves deeply divided on several important topics. These divisions are affecting churches, communities, provinces, and our beloved nation of Canada. We must find ways of bridging the gaps if we are to succeed. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. Before we can agree on solutions, we must have a shared understanding of the problems.

What are you reading? Where do you get your news? Most of us have grown up reading newspapers and perhaps watching the evening news on one of the major news stations. Some listen to the radio. In recent years, many of us have switched to online news sources, including websites connected to existing news channels like CBC, CTV, CNN, MSNBC or FOX News. Although we have always been aware of media bias, we trusted—in years past—that we were getting the basic facts. Access to the microphone was limited but the majority of Canadians were reading and hearing the same news.

The rise of social media—like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube—gave a platform to millions of people around the globe (ourselves included) who could now present information ignored by MSM (mainstream media). Anyone with a computer became able to spout opinions unpopular in the larger culture and debate fellow-citizens in regard to public policies. Being able to cherry-pick the news and to focus on stories that interest us was also another benefit. Readers can now skim the headlines, pursue details and follow writers with whom we agree. In recent decades, citizens have willingly created their own “echo chambers” where they read and watch only those opinion-writers who are reading the same news sources and advocating the same policies. I’m not saying this is wrong; I’m only saying that it has created a society where large segments of the population do not get the same news and do not share the same perception of reality. This creates huge challenges when debating public policy. What one side regards as facts, the other side considers “fake news”. Both sides want to convince the other side by argument, but without shared facts, there cannot be agreed-upon solutions.

There are many examples of this: the CO2 / climate change debate; the science of gender; the creation / evolution question . . . and most recently, the issue of COVID-19 and the measures introduced by our federal and provincial governments to minimize its impacts. On these latter issues, there is a huge spectrum of opinion. Canadians are deeply divided on the nature of the virus, on mandatory masking and isolation policies, on the lockdown of businesses and restrictions on gatherings, on the size and nature of government handouts, on the proper treatment of patients, on the benefit of PCR testing, on the safety and efficacy of the experimental vaccines being rolled out, on the concept of mandatory vaccinations, and on the role and responsibility of governments. This is a case where the MSM has closed ranks with most governments and is treating alternate opinions—even from doctors and nurses—as “conspiracy theories.” All of a sudden, in 2020, we have seen social media platforms censor opinions that do not line up with the official government narrative. There is an attempt to take the microphone away from those who do not enthusiastically support the actions of our federal and provincial governments.

This is an extremely dangerous time for freedom of speech, freedom of belief, and freedom of assembly. Wherever you stand on the response to COVID-19, I hope you will defend—with us—the right of all citizens to express views outside of the mainstream, views with which you may not agree. If we lose the ability to openly discuss and debate the issues of our day, we will find ourselves in a tyrannical dictatorship where truth is a victim.

At times like this—and always—we must turn to God and acknowledge that He defines all truth and reality. His Word and the principles it contains are our guide in the year ahead, and in all of our lives.

As we launch into 2021, I hope you’ll join CHP if you’re not already a member. Help us shine the light of truth and defend the freedom to speak it!



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