I don’t remember the name of the editor this quote came from, but the quote is very appropriate for the age we are living in. He said, “They will forgive you if you are wrong, but they won’t if you are right.” The context was as follows. He was a reporter and editor who had broken a number of scoops in the DC area. What he meant by his quote was, if you report something that no one wants to hear and you are right, there is no way people will apologize to you and, in many cases will blame you for being right. It is a cynical thought about our fellow citizens, but it has been true more often than not. If you buck public opinion and are right, people will tend to hold it against you. It doesn’t make you wrong, but it does challenge your internal strength of character and resolve.
It is hard to do and say the right thing, but it is imperative. Donna Brazile, the interim head of the Democratic National Committee, authored a book about her time as head and basically reported what many people had suspected about the reach of the Clinton campaign into the workings of what was supposed to be an independent DNC during the primary elections of 2016. As a result, she has been attacked and castigated by a number of people on the left, who are angry, not with the Clintons, but with the person who shattered their ideal of Hillary Clinton.
We are also seeing it with all of the recent reports of sexual harassment and assault. People don’t like having their ideal visions destroyed and they will tend to attack the messenger. In the end, though, the truth, while difficult and sometimes painful, must be stated and defended. I heard it put this way once. Facts are not to be feared, rather they are to be accepted and dealt with in our responses to them. If we are intellectually honest, we will deal with them honestly. If we are afraid of them, we will dismiss them and rail against the messenger who brought them to us and try to diminish them in order to, hopefully, bring the facts into question.
The problem is that the truth is, simply, the truth. There are many truths I don’t like. One that immediately jumps to mind is that maple-bacon donuts are not as good for you as vegetables. I don’t want it to be true, but it is. My misguided hopes aside, if I ignore the truth, I’ll balloon up to over 300 pounds. If I don’t I will live longer (everything else being equal). Today we are seeing the dark side of icons from the entertainment, political, and business arenas be revealed. Some we like seeing (I’ll talk about schadenfreude later), but some we don’t. We have no bearing on what was done nor on the aftermath of the revelation, but we do have a decision to make when we read/hear it. We can accept it, evaluate it and move forward, or we can shoot the messenger. Frankly, the only benefit of shooting the messenger is momentary alleviation of our emotional angst. In either scenario, acceptance or revolt, ultimately, we are forced to face the truth. My advice? Face it, accept it, learn from it and move on.