Different Eyes and Blurry Lines

Did you watch the Golden Globe Awards ceremony recently? Perhaps you don’t watch award shows, I get it. I have definitely stopped watching most, but I do enjoy the performing arts and happened to turn on the TV for about 30 minutes that night. In the time I had my television turned on, I caught Meryl Streep’s speech as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. I found her speech moving with excellent points calling all people to protect journalism and safe guard principled press.

I agree with that point of view. Hard-working and honest journalists who dig deeply for the truth are critical in our society. Thinking to myself how grateful I was that she made those important points, it struck me as strange that social media lit up almost immediately with heated debates about her speech and whether or not she had the right to say what she said. The debate was not about the overarching message Streep delivered, but became a political argument…liberal, conservative…Trump, Clinton…platforms, awards shows, Twitter, and on and on.

We as Americans are extremely fortunate that we can have these debates and say what we would like to say utilizing public forums, like this blog. People can choose to not read, not watch, or not care, but according the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, our freedom of speech is protected. This protection is not just for those who believe exactly as we do. Therefore, Streep had the right to say what she wanted during her acceptance speech.

This article is not written to throw my support completely behind Streep or to stir up that argument again. I did not vote for Clinton. I am not a liberal. In fact, someone would have a tough time labeling me. My motivation for writing this is simple. I agree with what Streep said that night, and I support her right to say it. I also believe what she said was valuable in seeing the whole picture of the current condition of our nation.

We hand out labels too quickly and flippantly in order to simplify situations. In particular, I am troubled that some people are screaming that actors need to shut-up and just stick to acting. As an educated female with proven talents (the numerous awards establish this fact), Streep has a significant voice in our country. I would like to hear what she has to say though I may or may not agree.

It seems that our nation has become so divided that we shut down when someone with an opposing view begins to speak. Listening is key in effective communication, and we learn much more about a situation when we hear all of the sides. For example, the incident that Streep refers to in this speech is an interesting one. Do you believe Trump was indeed heinously mocking the journalist’s disabilities? Or was Trump just mocking him? Are either appropriate? Should we hold our president to a higher standard of communication? Shouldn’t we be asking these questions? Streep’s speech brought back these important questions.

Recently, I began watching National Geographic Channel’s Brain Games on Netflix. To take in all of the information in episode one of season two, I have rewound it several times. Funny because this episode presents facts about our brain and concentration. As amazing as our brains are, they are easily distracted and can only concentrate on one thing at a time.

Because the brain can only concentrate on one thing, we miss vital information frequently. According to Brian Scholl, Lab Director and Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale, “The brain is constantly bombarded by far more information than it can handle. If we tried to process all of it, we would be completely paralyzed.” Attending to only the small part of what is in front of us means that we sometimes fail to see what is really there. This is called inattentional blindness. So how do we know what is really in front of us? What is the truth?

We gather valuable information so we can see the whole picture. We do our part to ask questions and find the truth. We surround ourselves with people we trust to help us see things we may have missed, but we also must listen to all points of view. Some people who have a completely different view from us will most likely catch beneficial information that will give us the ability to discern the situation more fully.

That is the value of the principled press in the United States. When lines have been blurred and things are vague, or when the envelope of what is acceptable is being pushed, we need to work harder to see the truth. A different set of eyes can help.

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