Monday, October 19, 2009

Truth or Consequences

I received an e-mail from an acquaintance who's fond of forwarding purportedly true (and usually, political) stories that all too often prove to be completely false.   Occasionally, I fact-check his e-mails and find them to be erroneous but just let it go.  I decided, however, to call him out on this last one since I was growing weary of being in his channel of misinformation.  My rebuke provided evidence to clarify the facts and was fair but firm. He didn't like it . . . not even a little bit.  This was not the first time that he has been called out by a recipient of his e-mails.  A couple of months ago, another recipient had used the "Reply to All" to correct him and set the record straight on a defamatory and completely false report he circulated.  Since that time, he's elected to conceal his list of recipients and I suspect that's to protect himself from another "Reply to All" embarrassment. His response that time was that he normally checks his facts but this one slipped by.   Oddly enough, that's precisely the same excuse that he gave me this time, too.  Hmmmmm  . . . I'm starting to think that he probably doesn't check the validity of the stories that support his political position.  That's his right.  He can choose to believe what he wants and decline to validate what he hears.  Where I think he crosses the line is when he chooses to share those bogus stories with others under the pretense that they are valid.In all fairness to this guy, he's not the only guilty party.  Obviously, the people from whom he gets these false stories are guilty, too, as well as many others.  I, too, have erred in repeating inaccurate information.  In correcting his story in a private e-mail just between the two of us, it was not my intention to shame or anger him but to help him understand that you and I have a responsibility to ensure, within reason, that the information that we share with others as truth actually is true.  It's called accountability and it's reasonable and scriptural (Matthew 12:36-37). Here, God reminds us that we are accountable for every careless word we speak and I'm going to extrapolate this to include every word we e-mail, as well. 

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