A meander around the issue of bias and being fair to others

Well we think we are thinking right but how do we know for sure? Some of us go through times when we are so influenced by those around us that we cannot think right. We have all heard the saying that bad company corrupts good morals.

It takes a strong person to stand up for good when they are surrounded by bad company. This is one reason why so many say protect yourself and do not get involved with people like that. It is also why we are often warned about what we let into our minds through our ears, our eyes and any other possible access point.

How do you know what to avoid?

Some things are obvious. Most of us would avoid images that we find offensive. They may be consenting adults but we do not want to see what should only be shared between husband and wife.

What happens though when the ideas that are put across by the media have a definite bias. Can we really see that it is biased? It is amazing how much of the way we see the world beyond our doorstep is influenced by the media.

If the media says XYZ is a bad guy because of this that or the other then we accept it. But how do we know that they are telling the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth? What if people are told that XYZ is an ABC by the media but those who have known XYZ or have worked closely with them for years know that this is not true. All those who hear the message put out by the media now believe that XYZ is an ABC, even without knowing them personally.

Once they think XYZ is an ABC then everything that happens is viewed through that lens. If XYZ does something then it is because they are an ABC. Then of course everyone who is an ABC does that so they expect them to do that because they are an ABC.

It does not matter if you are one of the richest people on earth or one of the poorest the same thing can happen. African Americans who have worked with Donald Trump for years are amazed that he is portrayed by the media as a racist when that is so far removed from their experience. Those who work in the poorest communities look at how those they work with are portrayed by the media and see things from a very different perspective.

We read the newspapers, watch the news on the TV and take it all in hook line and sinker. There are times when we come across something and it expresses a different point of view to our own. We then struggle to accept the alternative viewpoint.

Whether we agree with what some have called the war against landlords depends on whether we are a tenant or a landlord. From a tenant’s perspective some of the new controls seem a very good way of curbing excesses. From a landlord’s perspective they are unduly controlling and a threat to their business.

If we are a tenant  then we will watch the TV programs that see the world from our perspective. We will read the newspapers who reflect ideas that we can agree with. The same with the landlords. We read the books, magazines newspapers etc that reinforce our view of the world and avoid the rest. If that is a  bookshop that sells that kind of book then we won’t even go into it.

How can you have a fair society with all this going on around us?

They thought I was joking when I said if you cannot agree on doing things that are mutually pleasant then do something that is equally as unpleasant so honours are even. The scenario what there was an ongoing struggle to find a set of words that were equally acceptable by two groups of people. They literally used two different languages with different ways of saying the same thing.

The problem came when they made the literal translation of one language to another. When one used a set of words that was acceptable to them in their language the literal translation was unacceptable to the other. It was an ongoing discussion between friends. When the words sounded kind to one they sounded unkind to the other. Hence my comment if you cannot find something where honours are even in terms of being positive why not look for something where honours are even in the negative.

To be honest if both sides think that the other side has won something in the discussion it is probably a fair discussion. One side cannot win all the time if something is going to be fair. There has to be a certain amount of give and take as they say.

You cannot have a fair discussion if one side of the story is not heard. Anyone with any sense will listen to more than one side of the story. I think back to one incident in my childhood when I got so hurt that I have remembered it for decades. Something happened and my brother told his side of the story to my dad who was tired and responded without having the wisdom to check out my side of the story. Dad was so cross at being disturbed that I did not dare tell him the whole truth of the situation. He therefore ruled in my brother’s favour and it was months if not years before I dared to challenge my brother again.

I can look back and see that if my side of the story had been heard dad’s response would have been very different. As it was I was left weaker than I had been. I dare not sit in the better chair again. I had to sit in the one that was not so good because that was the only way that I could protect myself from the harsh reaction that came when I did not.

It sounds so trivial arguing over what chair to sit in when watching TV. But the lack of wisdom in not listening to both sides of the argument before making a judgement led to a lingering resentment. Yet how many times do we listen to one side of the story when it comes to what we hear in the media.  We trust them to do and say the right thing but they present such a one-sided story that we cannot make a wise decision based on what they say.

There are times when we need to seek out alternative opinions and see things from a variety of perspectives. We cannot have a fair society without many different voices being heard and we all have to play our part in making these different voices heard. There again we all need to be responsible enough to listen to these alternative voices and see things from their side as well.

See why I called this a meander. There are times when we need to have the wisdom to know what alternatives to avoid. There are also times when we need the wisdom to know what alternatives to take notice of.

How do you protect the weakest with all this going on around us?

Guess what. They are the weakest because they have experienced things that have made them weak. My view of myself as having enough value to sit in the better chair was damaged by dad’s lack of wisdom when he was too tired to be a good father. For others, their view of landlords is coloured by what they see as the inappropriate behaviour of the landlords that they have had dealings with.

BTW the behaviour of some landlords is coloured by the inappropriate behaviour of some of their tenants. So honours are even there! If truth be known honour and respect from both sides would go a long way to build a harmonious business relationship in that situation.

If you heard that someone was being evicted you would expect something to have gone badly wrong. Believe it or not that is not necessarily the case. What if a lady with two young children wanted to move to a different area but she could not find anyone to rent her a house there. Weeks if not months of discussion followed as the landlord wanted her to leave for his own reasons. In the end, they both realised that the only solution was for her to be evicted. Other than the presence of the bailiff enforcing the eviction it was no different to any other house move. In fact, it was even more amicable in some ways as both sides were finally able to move towards what they wanted to achieve.

That is unusual I will admit but it shows that not everything is what it seems. You would think the landlord was being harsh evicting a family like that, yet they knew that they had somewhere to go to temporarily and it was all planned ahead of time like any other house move.

How do you stop things happening to people that make them weak?

One way is to use the law. There are various checks and balances in the legal system that are designed to protect people. The law sets the boundaries of what people can do but it is not perfect. One reason why the politicians keep on adjusting it and trying to get it right.

Another way is character formation. That is the hidden factor in all relationships. It was the good character of the landlord that made them unhappy about evicting a young family. They could put themselves in the shoes of that mother and shudder at the idea of eviction.

There are times when it is blatantly obvious that there is a problem with character formation within the media. This could be when there are criminal proceedings related to misuse of the phone system. Other times it is not so obvious when all you hear is doom and gloom.

I am not so sure that is just an issue of character formation of the media. It could be an issue of character formation of those who consume their message. After all what these media outlets are looking for are more readers, more listeners, more subscribers and if they can attract them by sharing a particular message in a certain way then they will do so.  Their response is we would not do it if they did not want it.

Where do we end up then?

I find myself screaming out for wisdom. The wisdom that brings me into contact with alternatives that help me better understand a situation from a number of different perspectives. The wisdom that helps me seek out the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The wisdom that knows that I am biased and that everything that I take in via my senses is filtered through my expectations but also knows that my expectations can lead me astray. The wisdom that keeps me away from things that will genuinely hurt me.

That is a tall order but what else do I do. Without that kind of wisdom myself and without being around people who display that kind of wisdom I will not know the truth. If I don’t know the truth then I will become weak in some way.

I suspect that the less truth we know the weaker we become. If that is the case then the weakest are those who are in greatest need of understanding the truth. We are then left with the responsibility of finding out the truth for ourselves and for then sharing that truth with others so that they can become stronger.

Yikes, I have not touched on the whole idea of character formation. School, family, church and other communities that we are part of all take a role in this. Without it as a society, we are left struggling. The strong can hurt the weak and make them weaker. Not only that but the weak struggle to stand up against the strong so the strong can get stronger. You wonder why sometimes I just feel like screaming GOD HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP

Quite a meander but do you have any thoughts on this. If so please add a comment to the discussion forum.

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