Is Honesty the Normal Policy?

Something About Nothing

by Julie Seedorf

© August 2018

published in the Albert Lea Tribune Sunday, August 12, 2018

 

The Dog Days of Summer was going to be the topic of my column this week until I saw “Reality Check” by Pat Kessler on WCCO television. The topic was an ad by Governor Candidate Tim Pawlenty where he claims he will stop undocumented immigrants from stealing millions from Minnesota. The ad claims Minnesota is wasting hundreds of millions giving free health care to people who are not eligible.

Now before you begin attacking me for being biased for one party over another I have said before, I vote for the candidate, not the party. Long, long ago I did vote for Tim Pawlenty, one time.

In “Reality Check” Kessler stated the 2016 non-partisan study by the office of the Minnesota Legislative Auditor which the ad is based on, is true and it is true that the office reviewed a sampling of thousands of Minnesota Medicaid and Minnesota Care files and found 30 percent of the participants may have been ineligible. Many did not qualify for the program for which they were enrolled and others were not eligible at all. The study is real but it is an exaggeration that undocumented immigrants are responsible. The audit does not say that. It cites immigration as a small fraction of the problem. The audit blames lack of oversight, poor training and lack of updated software for the problem. Undocumented workers are not the problem.

I suspect the ad is misleading because immigration is a hot button topic right now and we are quick to place blame on illegal immigrants because it riles people up and gets our attention when in reality the truth is somewhere in between. Don’t get me wrong I suspect both sides do this. It is up to us to sift through the information and find the truth and it can be hard to do with so many fake news sites and real news sites that do not give us both sides of the issue. Being informed is not easy. It is time-consuming and hard work.

I will admit to not making informed decisions on occasion in my voting in the past. I will admit to passing on news of Social Media sites that I take at face value not looking into the validity or the truth of what is being said. I will admit to not being the smartest bulb on the planet in many areas and politics may be one of them because I have not done my homework. But it is no longer acceptable for me to vote for someone because I think they are a nice person or they are a friend. I have done that in the past and voted blindly because I liked someone’s personality and what they are showing to the world.

Let’s face it we do not personally know the people we are voting for. We make assumptions based on what they look like and what they project in the public eye. It is easy to change our public persona and if we are a good pitchman or a persuasive person. It is even easier to sway opinion no matter what field we work in. We might actually be a vile person. Think of serial killers and how surprised people are to find out about their dark side when they have only known them as being a friendly neighbor or good guy or gal.

After listening to Pat Kessler I decided to do my own reality check on some social media posts that are being passed around on both the Republican and Democratic side of the coin. It was amazing what the facts were once they were found some actually on the Government website such as Social Security and the benefits for Welfare pages proving the posts to be false or half-truths. Again the truth was skewed and facts were somewhere in the middle. Both the conservative and the liberal websites skewed the truth. Only the websites which presented both sides of the issue were anywhere near the truth.

Because we are so quick to believe that which sides with our viewpoint, we may be passing along untruths to further an agenda which is not based on facts or truth. We point fingers at the other side and place blame which in many instances is unfair in its basis.

Primaries are coming up. I would urge each and every one on both sides of the spectrum to take the time to do your research and flush out the truth whether it agrees with your opinion or not. The truth is important. It is time we quit making decisions based on what is fed to us through the proliferation of advertising for each candidate which may only have half of the truth woven in the statements being made.

I believe we owe it to our country, to our children and to ourselves to quit the rhetoric, make informed decisions based on rational thinking and vote for candidates who represent honestly what they are spouting and hold them accountable to the truth.  That is if we can find one who doesn’t skew the truth to make themselves look good. That in itself may be a frustrating journey. It seems candidates today think they can’t be honest to win an election.

Oh and by the way, here is another truth. Just because I am an author it doesn’t mean I am the smartest bulb in the planet when it comes to literary works either. Trivia friends this means you. There too I tend to only pay attention to books which fit my reading personality, light and fluffy. It is good I don’t have to vote on anything there

Believe What You Believe?

san logoSomething About Nothing

My column from the Albert Lea Tribune July 30, 2018

This message has been trending on social media: “Crazy … it worked! After reposting this to all my friends, my newsfeed showed a whole new batch of friends’ posts I haven’t been seeing.

“Here’s how to avoid hearing from the same 25 Facebook friends, due to Facebook’s new algorithm. If you are reading this message, do me a favor and leave me a quick comment… a “hello,” a sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my newsfeed! Then, copy and paste onto your wall so you can have more interaction with all your contacts.”

I know this is false and does not work, but I have seen it so many times the part of my brain which feeds sensible thought changed and I began to believe that possibly this was true, even though I had checked it out with factual sources. After all, could so many intelligent people be misled? My truth was starting to change. Maybe I needed to try it because there is the chance it could work in spite of what factual sources state.

This happens in our lives too. If someone tells us we are stupid or ugly or are a failure and it is repeated often enough, one begins to change what we believe about ourselves. There are studies that support this theory.

How many products do we buy because the commercials appearing during our television viewing time repeat over and over again? We buy products too good to be true because we watch the hype merry-go-rounded until we believe using a certain vitamin will take away our bunions. In fact, ask yourself how many times during the commercial break on a television show you have seen the same commercial twice or even three times in a few minutes. Think about it — would fake products be selling if somehow we weren’t enticed into believing they can cure the incurable or make us want that which we always stated we didn’t need?

It also makes a difference who is speaking. Back in the ’50s, Verne Gagne was selling a certain type of vitamin. My parents bought it because Verne was popular, and in those days people tended to believe those who were in the limelight, whether they used the product or not. It was all about who was giving them the pitch. Were they trustworthy? And how did they know they could trust them?

In 2018 our brains are hit every single second while we are on social media with messages to buy, believe or fix something. They burn into our brain over and over again so much we began to believe that which is not true, such as the Facebook message above. And then we tend to not believe the sites, news people or others that actually report the truth. We do not take the time to investigate.

Is it a form of brainwashing? I feel it is.

An article on BBC.com by psychologist Tom Stafford posted on Oct. 26, 2016, is titled: “How liars create the illusion of truth.” He states, “Repetition makes a fact seem truer, regardless of whether it is or not. Understanding this effect can help you avoid falling for propaganda.”

These days, we seem to be arguing about Facebook posts, statements in the newspapers, what politicians and celebrities say as to the validity of the truth. We accept what is printed and posted and shouted as the truth without actually investigating where the statement is coming from or whether the person making the pitch is actually who they say they are. We accept it as valid, depending on what we believe, and we may believe the statement because of what we have been fed either by someone in our lives personally such as “you are stupid” or by what we do and see out in the world. We believe without question if the point of view that is fed to us aligns with what we concur. But I think we have to ask ourselves if we believe what we believe because we investigated and came to a sensible decision, or if we believe what we believe because we have seen it over and over again in front of us so that it is burned into our brain and has changed the way we perceive things — or if we believe what is being said because of it being passed down by someone who had the same values as us. And we don’t question who or what the source is or if it is valid because we think the same way.

I am as guilty of this as anyone else. I have to ask myself if I believe what I believe to be true because I have based my decision on facts, or if I have followed along blindly because it feeds that which I already believe whether the source is fact or fake. I also have to ask myself why I trust the speaker. Are they known to be truthful, or do they tell me what I want to hear for their own gain? After all, as John Steinbeck stated,” It has always been my private conviction that any man who puts his intelligence up against a fish and loses had it coming.” I guess I will believe that.

Oh, and I won’t be offended if you don’t believe me. After all, this could be all fake news.

This is the link to the article I quoted if you are interested: BBC Article

Life Is Short; Forgive Your Family Members

Something About Nothing published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of September 25, 2017

The best career I have had in my lifetime is that of a mother. There will never be anything I do which will equal my feelings about being a mother.

I wasn’t always the best mother. We don’t have experience when we start, we gain it as we go and unfortunately for our children, at times, they are the testers for our parenting skills.

I have fought with my kids if I saw them making mistakes, especially if they were the same mistakes I made. I wanted to spare them the pain. They have fought with me when they thought I wasn’t doing the right thing in their lives or mine. That’s what families do, they love, they fight and they come together in good times or bad.

I didn’t understand when I was younger why my mother worried about me so much, or why we had to fight about certain things when I was a teenager or even a young adult. But I do now. As a parent and grandparent, if she were alive today I would ask her forgiveness for our fights and tell her I understand it was because of love.

As I get older I miss our kids. It isn’t because we don’t see them or they don’t share their lives with us, but because as a mother I still to this day at times have empty nest syndrome. I would love to be a part of their daily lives again. We live close — a couple of hours away, but we can’t have the day-to-day interaction, and it isn’t easy to go to all of my grandchildren’s activities and I miss that.

Because they are so busy with work and kids’ activities, they don’t get home very often. But the other night, my son shared a picture of him and his son engaging in a father-son activity. I realized while looking at that picture that now is their time together. My children are building their relationship with their children, just like my husband and I did with ours. They are making memories. It is the way it should be. They include us when we can’t be there by texting pictures and updates when they are at activities. I am thankful for new technology, but now is their time.

My heart was sad this week when I thought of some of my friends and relatives who are estranged from their children and grandchildren. For whatever reason, their children have cut them out of their lives and their grandchildren are growing up without knowing their grandparents and feeling their love. I saw the tears of hurt from one friend and my heart broke for her.

So, this column is for those children. As parents, we really don’t know everything, even though we pretend to. We are not always that brave person we appear to be. We get scared, too. We feel lonely. We make mistakes. We don’t always feel well and sometimes we whine. We give advice when it’s not wanted. We might not have agreed with your choices and maybe we voiced that too much. But right or wrong, as a parent we do that.

My friends and family members who are missing their children might or might not know why you no longer call them, come home or don’t bring their grandchildren to see them. That makes me sad. You might think you are different than your parents and you don’t want their influence on your children, but what are you teaching them about love and family? Will they ever feel if they do something wrong you will cut them out of your life, too?

In my own family, not my immediate family but my childhood family, there was a feud. Brothers and sisters didn’t talk to each other for years. After many years I don’t think any of them knew what they were fighting about, but they still held the harsh words they said to one another in their hearts until a few weeks before one of them died. They put their feud aside and spent the last week visiting. I felt sad at all the years they could have had.

As a parent, we don’t always wear our love for our children on our sleeves. We all say things in the heat of anger that we don’t mean, but it stays and festers and causes rifts in relationships. If you are estranged from your parents or Grandma and Grandpa is just a name on a card or a word that is never spoken in your household, ask yourself if it is worth it. There may come a day when you want to hear their voice but their place of residence is now an urn or place in a cemetery.

Look at your children and ask yourself if the same thing could happen between you and them. How would it feel? And then as you are telling yourself it could never happen, remember your parents said the same thing.

Life is short. I saw the love for you from my friends and family, which you were given when you grew up. I saw the happiness you exhibited when you were with your family. I can’t believe you don’t remember that love.

I feel blessed our children and grandchildren are a part of our lives because I know, being the opinionated person I am, that I have committed some doozies, and yet they overlook my faults. I love the quote by Byant H. McGill, “There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”

What will you choose?