With everything that has been going on in the media recently, the phrase “fake news” has been used rather frequently.
That is why, this year, it is more important than ever to conduct your own research, and to be open to new and challenging ideas. This is something we, as humans, are not always good at. We can even see examples of this in popular culture.
A few nights ago, President Obama gave his farewell speech. He quoted a very well known character from an equally well known book. The book was Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and the character, the most beloved of all, was Atticus Finch. This character has been so highly regarded for decades as being a literary hero.
In fact, many libertarians regard To Kill a Mockingbird as a center-piece of libertarian ideals. The beliefs that Atticus exhibits in equality, justice, and doing what is right is a common theme in libertarianism. This book is taught in high schools everywhere, where students are seeing perhaps the first example of someone who embodies the “stand up for what you believe in, even if you are standing alone” principle.
The release of the second book in the franchise changed everything. Go Set a Watchman presented a new version of Atticus Finch. One that belonged to the Ku Klux Klan and held many racist sentiments. Readers discovered, along with Atticus’ daughter, Scout, that he was not the champion of civil rights that he was once thought to be.
Many fans of the first book refused to read the second because they didn’t want their idea of Atticus Finch to be ruined by discovering the truth. This is a common problem that society should resolve to tackle in 2017.
We are afraid of the facts, and often times we are too lazy to do our own research. We would rather just be presented with stories that back up our preconceived notions, and disregard anything that may challenge that.
We need to remember that sometimes it is okay to read books that change our minds about something. It is good to research news stories to see if they are legitimate, even if we find out the truth is something we can’t use to back up our own beliefs. It’s essential to recognize that just because you don’t agree with something, does not make it useless.
Let’s make this year the year we start doing our own research, rejecting fake news, and being open to new ideas and experiences that challenge us, even if we don’t necessarily like what we discover.