By Shane Kastler
A fellow pastor once gave me some good advice about doing marital counseling. He told me, “There are usually three sides to every story: his side, her side, and the truth.” This sage advice should also be taken by all who attempt to decipher news stories in modern America. Propagandists are everywhere and ply their trade with amazing results.
Many conservatives decry the bias of the “left wing media” and rightly so. To the observant eye, it's easy to see a certain slant in some stories towards the left. Of course “right wingers” do the exact same thing. It is inherent, by the very nature of mankind, to try and persuade others to your side of an issue. This, in and of itself, is not necessarily bad. We all want to convince others of the “truth” (at least as we perceive it). However, this practice takes on a decidedly evil bend when
it's camouflaged as “objective reporting.” Rare are the cases of truly “objective reporting” because most people have an agenda that they are seeking to advance.
One particular area in which this deception takes place is in the use of statistics. And because of this, I seldom regard any statistic I hear to defend any position. The political left might tell you that 95 percent of Americans support gun control; while not telling you that they took their poll in downtown Manhattan. While the political right might tell you that 95 percent of Americans oppose gun control; while not telling you that they took their poll in rural Alabama. It's all linguistic sleight-of-hand and deceptive political spin; which has nothing to do whatsoever with what is right or what is wrong. Meaningless statistics aside; should the government tell us what we should do and when we should do it? Should the government be in the business of banning some products (i.e., gun control) while forcing the purchase of other products (i.e., Obamacare)? Of course the answer is no, but that won't stop the propagandists from firing away. And what's even more frightening, it won't stop the average citizen from being deceived.
With this truth in mind, let us be very careful in trying to discern truth when we watch or read the information that comes from news outlets. Jesus warned his disciples to be “wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) In other words, while we shouldn't seek to harm others, we should recognize that many out there do. And while they may not consider their actions harmful; they are harmful nonetheless. Perhaps Michael Bloomberg thinks he is being benevolent in his attempts to take away your guns. But the evil “other side” of the equation is that he also takes away your ability to protect yourself. And he has the money, not to mention the media access, to spew his propaganda.
So what is the conclusion? Is everyone just lying to us so they can advance their agenda? Pretty much. Of course they won't consider it a lie, or at the very least they will consider it a "justified" lie, because it's “for your own good.” And what is the solution? Be aware of what's going on and be wise to it. When you hear a news story, ask yourself what it is the news outlet itself might be trying to push. And ask yourself what the true story might be. Because the truth is looming out there somewhere, on every story. The truth won't be readily apparent; and it will seldom be clearly presented, but it's out there. Waiting to be found by the discerning consumer who is willing to put in the work and “sift through the propaganda.”
Shane Kastler is Pastor at the Heritage Baptist Church, Lake Charles, LA and Co-Host; "Church & State" KELB Radio, 100.5 FM. He blogs at The Narrow Road.