Wounds of a Friend or Kisses of an Enemy

I am writing a more personal post this week. I watched the movie Emma and was struck by her lack of self-awareness. This of course is the theme around which the story revolves. I’ve been doing some soul searching. How unaware am I of the impact of my words?

The movie was timely as I was just brought up short by someone who corrected me with what I am to consider as a ‘loving rebuke from a brother.’

Rebukes are those double-edged swords. They can wound and heal or they can destroy. In the movie Mr. Knightley soundly rebukes Emma for her insensitive remarks to Mrs. Bates.

Mr. Churchill initiated a game requiring everyone to say three very foolish things. Laughing, Mrs. Bates self-deprecatingly says she is sure to say several foolish things if she opens her mouth. Emma then responds that the difficulty for Mrs. Bates would be to limit herself to three things.

So simply and beautifully done by Jane Austin.

Emma has mis-stepped before, but how her character flaw is laid bare before her friends. Mrs. Bates fumbles a little and mutters, “I see. I see….I will try and hold my tongue. I must make myself very disagreeable, or she would not have said such a thing.”

Emma changes when the full impact of her actions dawns on her. She heeds Mr. Knightly’s rebuke, as spoken by someone who cares.

Mr. Knightley points out that Mrs. Bates is below Emma’s station in life and will continue to sink and this is why Emma’s behaviour is so disgraceful. He reminds Emma that Mrs. Bates has known her since infancy and that when she was younger “her notice of you was an honour.” He says others will take their lead from her in their view of Mrs. Bates. To her credit, Emma comes to deeply regret her words and determines to make amends.

Wounds that heal. Mr. Knightley is greatly relieved to see that he has not ruined his chances with Emma, and that deep down her character was what he hoped, not what he feared.

As authors and journalists, we have to hold ourselves to a gold standard that refuses to stoop to ridicule and chooses to see the world as it “could be.”

I watched a brief clip by Jordan Peterson in which he says, you don’t want a partner who will just pat you on the head; you want someone who will push you towards who you could be.

As authors and journalists, we have to hold ourselves to a gold standard that refuses to stoop to ridicule and chooses to see the world as it “could be.”

Comedians have recently come under fire. While I agree with the importance of having the liberty of free speech, I’ve been of the opinion that a good comedian makes us laugh, collectively, at ourselves, our lives and the dilemmas we face. ‘Collectively’ is the key word here. We may be embarrassed but we can laugh at ourselves without feeling we are a target.

It’s easy to go with the flow, and laugh even when we know something is hurtful to someone. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Better are the wounds of a friend than the kisses of the enemy.” Do we really want the approval of the enemy? A true friend looks for fairness to all and is guided by kindness, while an enemy harbours malice.

Someone who does not like you when you are real will not like you if you fake it to go along with them.

I found a saying when I was young that went like this, “A fool convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Someone who does not like you when you are real will not like you if you fake it to go along with them, either. You become subservient when another can make you change outwardly and your outward behaviour no longer matches your inner convictions.

There is tremendous power in words to wound. There is also power to influence others for good or evil. It is much easier to tear down than it is to build.

In today’s society trashing a person’s life seems to be some sort of sadistic sport: Let’s see whose life we can destroy this week.

In Canada thousands of caregivers risked their lives during the worst part of the pandemic and have now lost their jobs, on top of it all, due to vaccine mandates. Some provinces have decided against firing health workers as we approach the “endemic,” and the journalistic response has been disturbing. Chris Selley covered the surprising attitude in a recent article entitled, Canadians are enjoying firing the unvaccinated far too much.

Kudos to our local school boards and unions who have decided to continue business as usual rather than lose teachers.

I’ve led a sheltered life and cruelty always comes as a shock to me. It may be because I’ve stayed off Twitter. (Smile.) The real reason why I am not on Twitter is because of how much of my valuable time it would consume. But there is another reason. I would find it too hard to resist firing off those zingers in the moment. I need a Mr. Knightly in my life to hold me to a higher standard.

Viewing An Example of Biased Journalism

We have a strong political divide and it’s not healthy. But this is not about politics. It is about journalism. Having said that, journalism has become political. Nothing has exposed this as well as the Trump election and his failure to be re-elected. This piece points out not only bias, but complete loss of journalistic objectivity.

When it is only acceptable to write one view, then journalism becomes suspect.

When it is only acceptable to write one view, then journalism becomes suspect. It trespasses the high journalistic standard–the code of objectivity–which is ultimately the foundation of public journalistic trust.

You’ve all seen them–the articles covering Trump’s claim of American election fraud. Maybe the election was stolen. Maybe it wasn’t. But one thing I know. It’s not up to journalists to print a verdict before the evidence is examined and tried in court. However, this is what happened, right out of the election gate, and we all witnessed it.

I’m not American. I hope the election wasn’t stolen. But how can I know, if nobody is willing to examine the evidence, much less give it credibility?

From the perspective of the media, election fraud is completely preposterous. The obvious bias of journalists, supported by–probably encouraged by–the news outlets, is almost laughable, but for the implications. Journalism that is influenced can be corrupted. When the public feels that journalism is influenced, it loses confidence in the reporting of news. In recent years there has been a shocking erosion of public trust in media.

I’ve taken an article printed on various new sites such as The Guardian, the Business Insider and The Washington Times for my illustration of media bias. The articles look much the same and there are numerous similar articles in print, with different angles, regarding the US election.

The article headline is Steve Scalise, No 2 House Republican, refuses to say election was not stolen. Below is the complete article with my personal observations in bold.

In a television interview aired Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, Scalise, the House’s second-ranking Republican, stood by Trump’s lie (should be “claim”) that Democrat Joe Biden won the White House because of mass voter fraud.
By Hope Yen – Associated Press – Sunday, October 10, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House’s second-ranking Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise, repeatedly refused to say on Sunday that the 2020 election wasn’t stolen, standing by Donald Trump’s lie (should be “claim”) that Democrat Joe Biden won the White House because of mass voter fraud.
More than 11 months after Americans picked their president and almost nine months since Biden was inaugurated, Scalise was unwilling during a national television interview to acknowledge the legitimacy of the vote, instead sticking to his belief that the election results should not have been certified by Congress.


“I’ve been very clear from the beginning,” he said. “If you look at a number of states, they didn’t follow their state-passed laws that govern the election for president. That is what the United States Constitution says. They don’t say the states determine what the rules are. They say the state legislatures determine the rules,” the Louisiana congressman said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Pressed by moderator Chris Wallace on whether the election went beyond a few irregularities to be considered “stolen,” Scalise responded: “It’s not just irregularities. It’s states that did not follow the laws set which the Constitution says they’re supposed to follow.”
Trump left office in January a few weeks after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in a violent riot in an attempt to prevent Congress from formally declaring Biden the winner. (placed here for effect)

As Trump mulls a 2024 presidential bid, he has been intensifying efforts to shame – and potentially remove – members of his party who are seen as disloyal to his bogus claims (should leave out bogus) that last year’s election was illegitimate. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who is vying to become speaker if the GOP takes control after the 2022 midterm election, continues to defend Trump and his false assertions (should leave out false).
At a rally Saturday in Iowa, Trump spent almost 30 minutes arguing falsely (should leave out falsely because this is inserting a belief of the author) that he had won Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds stood by and welcomed his return to their state.

In fact, no election was stolen (appropriate wording would be, “According to….no election was stolen”) from Trump. His former attorney general, William P. Barr, found no evidence of widespread election corruption. Allegations of massive voting fraud also have been dismissed by a succession of judges and refuted by state election officials and an arm of the Homeland Security Department during the Trump administration. (A good journalist would dig into this and also include information from those bringing the allegations. There is a story here.)

Scalise on Sunday appeared to be referring to the legal argument, made in several lawsuits backed by Trump before and after last November’s election, that the Constitution gives the power of election administration exclusively to state lawmakers. (What exactly does the Constitution say? Why not a quote here?) The suits sought to invalidate a number of pandemic-era accommodations including expanded mail voting that were put in place by governors, state election officials and judges. (Did Trump have a case, based on the Constitution? Was there any question of legality here? We need more information. We rely on journalists for this information.)

The high court ultimately turned away the cases, declining to rule on the matter. There’s no indication in any of the suits (not one example is given of a suit…bad journalism) that changing the COVID-19 accommodations would have altered a state’s election results.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who is serving on a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, on Sunday slammed Scalise for spreading Trump’s “Big Lie.”

“Millions of Americans have been sold a fraud that the election was stolen,” Cheney tweeted. “Republicans have a duty to tell the American people that this is not true. Perpetuating the Big Lie is an attack on the core of our constitutional republic.”

END OF ARTICLE

It is the responsibility of journalists to present evidence and then to trust the public to have the intelligence and insight to come to a reasonable conclusion.

“Journalists and the news outlets have the responsibility to tell the American people what to believe.” –False

The beauty of the article is that the last two paragraphs reveal the logic of the writer. We might rephrase, “Journalists and the news outlets have the responsibility to tell the American people what to believe.” This, of course, is false. It is not the role of journalism, in a democratic society, to push a certain narrative. We see this happening in totalitarian states where news sites and journalists are the propaganda arm of the government and must tout the party line, or face consequences.

Readers want information. We want to be able to trust journalists to give us both sides. We want to examine the evidence for ourselves. We don’t want to be told what to believe. And we would like to see journalists’ opinions reserved for Commentary and Opinion columns.

Writers Needed

Now is the time to hone your writing skills. Now is the time to learn to express the important things on your mind and in your heart.

It may be your voice that is heard. It may be your voice that makes the difference.

This is the time to shine your light. This is the time to assess what is happening around you and to determine your role. What can you do to move things forward in a positive way?

I think the most important thing we can do right now is to work on building good, strong relationships. Learn from the best. Watch how others do it. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone. You may have to change your tone. Maybe your attitude, or your approach. Learn to listen well. Learn to hear people’s heart. Learn how to reflect back what people say, so you are sure you heard the right thing. Learn to respond with clarity and sincerity. Learn how to bite your tongue, sometimes.

Most of all, be a helper. That is what this is all about. As the beloved Mr. Rogers said, many years ago, “Look for the helpers.” Better yet, be a helper.

Help with your words. Find something encouraging to say. Find something enlightening. Put the pieces together and share what you discover.

Be ready. Don’t expect everyone to appreciate what you say. Find better ways of saying it, rather than giving up.

Leave a legacy. Leave something people can read, or listen too.