Jonal entry 1122 | August 10 2010
In my childhood it was not unusual to be told,
"mind your own business." Or if the adult (usually
one of my parents) was in a kinder mood but wanting to make
the same point, it might be, "that's for me to know and
for you to find out." Though there were many such situations,
I remember only one specific instance. My aunt had slipped and
said a word in my presence that no male under 15 at that time
and place was supposed to know, "brassiere." I asked
what that meant and was told not to ask. So I learned early
to be careful what I asked and where to look for answers my
elders didn't want to supply. I used the huge one-volume encyclopedia-dictionary
in the eighth-grade classroom so much that the homeroom teacher
gave it to me to keep (it was pretty much worn out, though I
think I still had it in Palo Alto twenty years later).
And though vocabulary wordsand factsremained important
later in life, I eventually came to realize that some things are
better left unknown, or at least known only superficially; what
the dictionary tells you is often enough. This relates to the
recent Jonals on educated
opinions, about how news editorials and features get written
and how lacking their supporting documentation often is and why
"there are many topics on which it's better not to be well
informed." The Apostle Paul elaborates on this theme: "I
want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent [the Authorized
translation says "simple"] as to what is evil"
I've written some years earlier in this department about my fascination
with the lyrics found in several pop songs that say "I wish
I didn't know now what I didn't know then." Prudence should
prompt us to give some thought to the question, "how can
I avoid learning things I would rather not know?" And the
answer is in Paul's advice: paddle your kayak toward the innocent
and simple waters, not the rapids fraught with danger.
Things that we should all be "innocent" about include:
- idle gossip
- any lies told
about anyone or any event, including "inadvertent"
that inspires greed or lust for things, like the latest list
of lottery winners or reports about finders of treasures at
that inspires lust of the eyes for the bodies of others
- any "dirt" on anyone
that doesn't directly concern us
- this includes all the above but
bears repeating: anything that makes us "judgmental"
about any of our neighbors
- anything that inspires hatred
- anything that inspires envy
- and I'm sure there are many that
I've not yet gained enough insight to quickly recognize
Most of these require or presuppose that we should mind our own
business. If a headline trumpets that someone has mishandled funds
but you know he or she never got a hand on any of your funds,
that's all you need to know. A few weeks ago I rushed to judgment
on BP and some of its "callous" executives, but now
it appears that either the media were greatly exaggerating their
story or that BP has done a great deal better job at containing
damages than we had been given to expect. I should have used more
prudence even in commenting on this "public" disgrace
and disaster. Don't feed your lust for evidence of your superiority
over your neighbors by reading down the column of exposé
reports. "If you can't say anything good about someone, don't
say anything" could just as well be extended to "if
you can't read anything good...don't read."
I realize that if everyone did this, many newspapers' circulation
would be even more endangered than they already are, and as a
trained journalist I see some irony in that. But we all too quickly
become old and too slowly become wise. The shrinking of the news
media especially those that major in sensationalism and
half-baked reports may be in the best interest of us all,
on many counts.
Webmaster Jon Kennedy
August 10: Jon: Nice article on MYOB. Hits the nail
on the head. More folks should read it and live by its contents.
August 11: Jon,
Your asking about the word that your Aunt let slip,
reminds me of a way when we had moved to Ohio, when I was a very
na´ve and ignorant 16-year-old who might just blurt out anything.
I was walking with my Dad past a wall that had graffiti on it.
Written in several places it said, "Aggie is a fairy." I asked
my Dad, "do you know what they mean by "Fairy"? It must be a sort
of insult?" He then informed me that it was very ignorant of me
to be reading graffiti on the walls, as there was nothing good
written on the walls. "Fools names and fools faces are often seen
in public places!" He never did tell me what the word signified.
I did not agree necessarily with your post about
BP but do like to read your opinions. Isn't all journalism based
on educated opinions?
Most journalism professors and practitioners
probably would prefer to say most journalism is based on facts.
But certainly to the extent that the facts that are chosen to
report are picked based on educated opinions, you are entirely
right. And if the education is biased (and what is not?)?