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March 14, 2017 > Editorial: The enemy within us

Editorial: The enemy within us

As controversy swirls around the integrity of our cities and their citizens, major considerations within that debate appear to be based on safety and security. The political sidebar to this is the uncertain viability of facts and their origins. Advent of so-called ÒalternativeÓ facts has been liberally sprinkled about with damaging results to rational discourse; an enemy within us. Separating opinion from verifiable information is at the core of some disagreement with predictable results; rumor, innuendo and political preference take precedence over logical thought.

Beginning with a basic premise is critical for such arguments. Personal safety and that of our families and neighbors is a good starting point. Ideas of how to achieve that goal may differ, but if based upon sound rationale, a reasonable discussion can ensue. At the core of such discourse is the ability of participants to weigh ÒfactsÓ and determine their veracity. Social media has complicated this process by creating a plethora of information that attempts to invoke confidence through personal assurances although sometimes many times removed from the source.

While interesting and exciting to believe sensational Òfacts,Ó the true character of this information can be insidious to rational thought and behavior. Are there any checks and balances of personal observations and attitudes? Watching young children play, disagreements are often guided by parents and other adults promoting concepts of sharing and peaceful coexistence. Hate, intolerance and self-centered behavior are not innate ideas; they need careful nurturing from others. It is for this reason that education is the most powerful and political force that shapes our future. Pitched battles over school curriculum, structure and teacher behavior can be brutal but it is in classrooms that young minds spend hours looking for behavioral and contextual answers for the mass of information descending upon them, often received with few filters.

It is an awesome job to prepare our young citizens to think logically and parse what has become an overload of facts that can be true, false or Òalternative.Ó What is taught in public or private schools should hold at its core the common belief in the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" or whatever slight linguistic variation applies. No matter whether taken from a biblical interpretation or just common sense about the world around you, its application is within each of us and its opponent is within us as well. As each city and civil organization wrestles with the tenor of our times, we need to continue to calibrate and recalibrate our moral compass for ourselves and generations that follow.

Many organizations Ð Lions, Rotary, Soroptimist, AAUW, Kiwanis, Optimist, etc. - were formed by the concept of a shared community ethos to support and guide citizen interactions. The Rotarian 4-Way Test is a succinct and powerful statement when engaging in conversation with others:
1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
Although we are not all Rotarians or members of any of these organizations, their leadership should be inspiring, to help us strive for the best in us and battle the enemy within.

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