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Discernment - A Skill Needed by Some Millennials

Updated on April 17, 2017

Introduction

Recently, it occurred to me that many young people today lack a basic skill that we all take for granted. That is the ability to discern. Given a set of facts, from some set of people, we are able to detect the truth and over time come to our own conclusions. Who is to be trusted and who is spinning and have an agenda.

- Apr. 2017

Background

With technology and the internet, information overload is apparent. The consumers of these information have an extra burden. They need to separate the facts from fiction. Real from fake news. This skill should have been taught to all at early ages.

Yet, today, we see many people, especially young, who just decided to throw up their hands and give up. They are bombarded with contrary information on one topic or another. They seem to lack the skills to determine the truth.

Discernment was a term used by RCIA candidates when they are looking to convert to Catholicism. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a formal process for candidates to learn about the church and its teachings and beliefs.

Here is a guide on how to be better at discernment.

1. Start small. Keep it simple. If a simple fact cannot be told correctly, what chances does a more complex issue can be addressed Properly?

2. Diversify. Check all sources of information. Identify which are reliable over a period of time. Look for consistency.

3. Trust but verify. In this new environment, where speed is instantaneous, it is necessary to verify the information from independent sources. There are many sources of fake news and satire. Even big media can succumb to these false information at times.

4. Ask questions. Don't just accept what is being reported. Be inquisitive and ask the important details. Does the information provided make sense? Are there key points missing?

5. Look for signs of bias. What is not reported may be just as important as what is. Some bias in media is very subtle.

6. Bias in media is expected. What is deceitful is to claim to be impartial and yet be biased. Also, a biased media can still report a good story. Just being a biased media does not necessesarily invalidate all stories.

A Simple Example

President Obama and executive clemency. This is a very simple case. Every president has the right to offer clemency for convicted criminals. Some presidents used it to help our country heal such as President Ford with Nixon after he resigned due to the Watergate scandal. Some were controversial such as President Clinton pardoning of Mark Rich, a rich tycoon who broke our laws and were evading jail by hiding in Europe.

There are 2 types of pardon. One is to remove the guilty conviction. The other is to commute the sentences of a convicted criminal.

President Obama has issued a record number of commutations in his tenure. Yet, the news of this has not been reported widely. Why?

Background

President Obama is a progressive Democrat. I am a conservative. I was against most of President Obama's policies due to our political differences. In the area of law and order, we conservatives believe that laws and order is what keeps a society safe and just. Progressives like Obama believes our justice system is flawed. They don't believe some illegal drug uses are considered crimes. They also believe that race plays a role in thIs. They believe blacks are overly burdened with illegal drug enforcement and therefore account for the large number of blacks incarcerated in our prisons. Give that as backdrop, it is understandable that Obama would use his clemency powers to release drug dealers and users who are convicted and serving time.

Another Clear Case: Bowe Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl was an America soilder serving in Afghanistan. He deserted his post and was captured by the Taliban. He was in prison as a POW for about 5 years. In 2014, President Obama decided to trade 5 Guantanamo detainees for his release. He used the argument that we do not leave anyone behind.

After his return, an investigation was started about his alleged desertion. His trial has been scheduled in 2017, well after Obama left office.

The Foodstamp President

A final example. President Obama has been charged by the right as "the foodstamp" president. That is because, foodstamp use or EBT, has increased to a record high under his watch. He relaxed the rules of qualifications of both food stamps and of disability. As the chart below clearly shows, foodstamp usage increase dramatically under Obama and peaked in 2013.

Summary

Discernment is something we all should be skilled at. There are information and facts out there. Some will try and spin and deceive or cover up the truth. As a citizen who votes, it is imperative that we know the truth and act on it. Unfortunately, our media has foresaken its duties to be the watchdog. It is up to you and me.

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    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      19 months ago from Minnesota

      I agree with your position that discernment is difficult in this day in age with computers and social media. It's important that we raise our children to understand that many online can pose as something they are not.

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