Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cherry Picking

There have been many instances lately of “cherry picking” in an attempt to spin a narrative in one direction or another. To use an image to lend credence to a particular argument either for or against a situation, event, or person. To my way of thinking, we, as thinking humans must be vigilant in our efforts not to be victims of “cherry pickers.”

I guess the first time I was aware of “cherry picking” outside of the agricultural aspect was when I found the desire of some to “cherry pick” the Bible to either pound me over the head with one phrase plucked out of the millions between the cover of that holy book or use one to legitimize someone’s own behavior. It taught me to take a phrase, read it in context, and then cross reference it with other phrases that might be related to it and then determine for myself how I felt about it.

I’ve now been on this earth 67 years and in my time, I’ve been some places and I’ve done some things. I have a pretty vast array of knowledge and little of it has been experienced in an educational forum. Most of my knowledge has come from living, working, and doing ordinary life and quite often I find I actually DO know a thing or two about a thing or two.

When the Apostle Paul wrote his letters to the various churches, he had much to say about how they should conduct themselves and how they should structure worship. My whole life I had a BIG problem with the “let your women keep silent in churches…” statement. Then I took about 5 years of Disciple classes and found that phrase had been much “cherry picked” to enforce a doctrine of some more recently developed religions. If you read Paul’s letters you find that he wrote letters to those churches in much the way I would write letters to my children. I would frame my words and instructions to them based on 1) my relationship with them as individuals and 2) what I viewed their individual problems to be. In other words, I wouldn’t tell a child that had 2 jobs and carried a full load of college courses that they needed to stop being unmotivated and get busy. As I understand it, the women Paul referred to were recent converts to Christianity and therefore quite excited and enthusiastic. They were previously pagan and therefore had not yet been “civilized.” They were disrupting the proceedings, making it impossible for anyone to receive the blessings of being taught.

And, now we are in the instant gratification real time world where we know what is happening every single second every where in the world. Television, radio, iPads…pods, cell phones and computer streaming afford us the opportunity to see and hear for ourselves what is transpiring around us. Therefore, we have to be even more careful about not falling prey to a random, “cherry picked” quote, phrase, or image.

When there are 50 photographers rapid firing cameras the chance of them recording an awkward, uncomfortable or unfortunate image is enormous. People are human beings and you can’t be human and not have an off moment. Try it sometime. Let someone sit in your home with you and just document every second and see what the images say about YOU. And then imagine if that person documenting your day liked you….or worse….didn’t like you. And they needed to enforce their feelings about you using images to lend a reality to the words they were going to write. If they didn’t like you, they would write their piece and use the most unflattering image at their disposal.

We see this every day and this is the reason I try to see, hear and watch as much as I can about the events of the day for myself. I like to draw my own conclusions and here they are.

1) Interchanges between husbands and wives are not always touchy feelie. Sometimes, they hold hands, sometimes they walk side by side without touching, sometimes they greet each other with a show of affection and sometimes they barely interact at all. You can’t read their relationship from any single event.

2) Meetings between world leaders have many tense moments, they also have moments of levity as well as respectful dignity. When there is a language barrier, the awkward factor is going to amp up quite a lot due to the lag time in translation being delivered and heard. Don’t speculate on what you think is being disrespectful until you know personally what it is like to have to listen to someone speak a language you don’t understand and wait for that to be translated and delivered to your ear and then processed by your brain.

3) People thrust into new situations are often very uncomfortable until they get their legs under them enough to understand the ins and outs of where they find themselves. Picture yourself in a new job….how comfortable were you on your first day as opposed to a year down the road. I am a pretty good “secretary” but just having a grasp of what that term defines does not mean that I don’t spend more than a few days feeling overwhelmed in a new job, a new building, around new people, and trying to fit into a new protocol that is inherent to that business and the work environment they have put in place. Being a secretary for the governor of a state would be much different than being the secretary of the pastor of a church.

4) Maybe we all need to be less concerned with the actions, body language, and images being tossed around ad nauseam and take a few beats to judge. Watch what they show you, but watch it in connection to the event as a whole and maybe go out there in the vast super highway of internet exposure and look for some things that don’t support that viewpoint and weigh them for yourself.
Unfortunately, most of us just stick to the team of “cherry pickers” we agree with and we discount the “cherry pickers” in the other field. Maybe we need to remember that all the cherries need to be harvested and it takes all the pickers to get it done.