What To Do When Falsehoods And Fake News Surrounds Us?
By Jack Levine – 4 Generations Institute
We’ve all been inundated with the raging controversy over the quality and depth of media coverage and I want to put my two cents in.
As a citizen and advocate for causes which seek to identify and address social problems so solutions can be found, I have found no better vehicle than informed journalism.
I admire professionals who have the ability to understand the importance of an issue worthy of investigation, to collect information from reliable sources, and then construct an article which enlightens readers to understand the problem. An intelligent, informed and inspired citizenry is our democracy’s most powerful voice for positive change.
Fueled by accurate and verified information, opinions can then be formed and expressed by editorial writers, columnists, and a wide diversity of professional commentators and individuals of all persuasions.
We are a nation of laws which provide for the protection of important rights. We have the First Amendment to our Constitution to thank for our freedoms declaring, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It is upon this bedrock foundation of law which I believe we can build the best defense against tyranny and treachery. Responsible speech, lawful assembly, faithful devotion to principle and informed, ardent advocacy are keys to conscientious citizenship.
We live in a troubling time, however, when definitions of truth seem elastic. Some sources of information see it in their interest to stretch fact into fiction, giving consumers a fabrication of reality.
Falsehoods and fake news are all around us, and our capacity to decipher what is truth from fiction is tested every day. We are being pitched points of view which are advertisements for defective products. Just because someone can afford a platform to sell their ideas doesn’t mean we should buy, no matter how shiny the surface or appealing the promise.
Sales are of 1984, George Orwell’s post-WWII novel, are skyrocketing due in part by a peaked interest in the contested relationship between authoritarian rule and individual rights.
In addition, Internet communications which did not exist in decades past have opened us to be the target of surveillance, international piracy, economic criminality and outright cyber warfare.
It is worth the effort to dust off our high school edition or even head out to buy the book to see what some believe is a relevant bridge between Newspeak and today’s alternative news. Wherever you identify on the political spectrum, it’s good to understand others’ points of view.
Admittedly, responsible citizenship is hard work. It is far easier to sit idle as a sedentary spectator allowing others to exercise their freedoms without regard for truth, justice or what we have come to rely upon as the American Way.
But it’s in neither our personal nor societal interest to allow those with more powerful voices to have their way at the expense of our ideals and ideas for improving our quality of life. Each of us would benefit from self-reflection to see a clearer view of our duty to family, community, nation and world.
Responsible citizen involvement is a task worthy of our time and talent. Sacrificing our rights to express ourselves to forces which would prefer our silence in order to more potently enforce their own will is a prescription for public paralysis.
Allowing ourselves to become victims of misinformation, whatever the source, makes for a frightening future for those we love and generations to follow. It’s my earnest hope that we are smarter, stronger and better than that.
Author the Author
After a 25-year tenure as president of Voices for Florida’s Children, a statewide advocacy network, Jack founded 4Generations Institute to promote intergenerational policies and programs that benefit the young, their parents, and more experienced family members…..also known as grandparents.
Jack’s expertise is in developing and delivering messages to the media, public officials, and a diverse network of health, education, human services and social justice advocates on the value of preventive investments in children, parent leadership, grandparent activism, and dignified services for elders.
Through public speaking, seminar and workshop leadership, community conversations and opinion columns, Jack shares information, provides inspiration and leverages advocate enthusiasm in the direction of public policy action.
Jack holds a Master’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies from Purdue University and an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Hunter College.
He serves as Partnership Director for GRAND Media, is a member of Generations United and was a founding member of the Board of Voices for America’s Children.
A graduate of Leadership Florida, Jack was the recipient of that organization’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award. He was named Floridian of the Year by the Orlando Sentinel. Jack and his wife, Charlotte, live in Tallahassee, Florida and have two sons, Josh and Aaron, both graduates of the Florida State University and currently working as educators in Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon.
Jack Levine, Founder