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“Don’t argue for other people’s weaknesses; don’t argue for your own. When you make a mistake admit it, correct it, and learn from it – immediately.” Stephen R Covey

Wise words, words completely ignored by politicians. In their defence, they have been taught not to admit their mistakes (and you have to admit before learning from and correcting it, the progression is sound). The Press lambast any politician who makes a mistake to a point which, if done to just about anyone else, could legitimately result in a prosecution for using insulting words and behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. Seriously. A momentary spoken gaffe, a failure to remember some obscure, unimportant, untimely or even irrelevant fact – boom, out come the headlines from experts in Googling and 20/20 hindsight who didn’t know either, until they looked it up. Or knew it because they have an interest and expect everyone to give a monkey’s.

I recall a US statesman (I think it was Dick Cheney) being derided for use of an expression along the lines of ‘There are things we know we know, and there are things we don’t know we know. There are things we don’t know we don’t know, and there are things we know we don’t know.’

Which is exactly how the accepted progression from unconscious incompetence, through conscious incompetence and conscious competence, to unconscious competence flows. (Look it up at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_competence) It is how people learn. But evidently the press didn’t know this and headlined the message that Cheney was stupid. Ironically, those who DID know about the Four Stages realised how stupid the press made themselves look.

And the press is not accountable, is it? The Press holds everyone to account, but ask that it does the same in its own regard and the old ‘freedom of the press’ tagline screams at us from their pages. Remember Leveson? Remember the Press stating “we’ll have a Charter”? Where’s that all gone?

I’m also amused when a newspaper tells me I’m outraged about something which, not having read the paper yet, I don’t know about. And then when I read it, I’m still not outraged.

Let me give you a clue – when a report includes lots of emotionally charged adjectives and adverbs, they’re trying to wind you up, or they’re trying to make a story out of something that isn’t. When someone is writing what is admitted to be an ‘Opinion Piece’, it is just that – an Opinion. It may be well meant, it may be authoritative (rarely), but it is not Fact. When a report says, ‘critics are attacking’, it means the enemy is having a go – surprise!! It’s not FACT. Except to the degree ‘critics are attacking something’ is a fact of life.

And when a lawyer says, ‘My client’s instructions are….’, the lawyer doesn’t believe them, either. (Just thought I’d add that one in.)

I am always prepared to be wrong. But if someone makes an argument that uses hateful speech, personal attacks on people they’ve never met, or which is so obviously ideologically tinted, I’m none the wiser. I can’t see the facts for the flannel. ©

I only wish society would allow me the chance to be wrong with dignity.

 

For more on character, discipline and service, consider buying The Three Resolutions, available from Amazon HERE

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