Don’t believe everything you read or hear. That sounds strange coming from a writer, doesn’t it? But it’s true.
I can remember my mother saying that when she conversed with some people, she would listen, then “take it with a grain of salt.” (Don’t you just love that expression? I couldn’t resist researching its origin – it was used as early as 77 A.D, although back then it referred to unpleasant food being made more palatable.)
Today “take it with a grain of salt” means to be a bit skeptical about the truth of what you hear or read. We don’t have to search very far for examples…
– A few weeks ago, news accounts were proclaiming the amazing fact that 1,011 temperature records were broken in one week – including 251 new daily high temperature records in one day.
BUT…with a little research, we learn that the National Climatic Data Center has only been tracking the daily records broken for a little more than a year. Hmmm – that puts a different spin on the broken records, doesn’t it?
– Or how about this past Tuesday, when a local candidate for Congress was reported as likening Social Security disability to a form of slavery?
BUT…with a little more research, we discover the actual quote was a comment on the general creation of a “sense of economic dependence, which to me is a form of modern 21st-century slavery.” Now of course, the reference to slavery is political rhetoric, but still, the original report was inaccurate.
– Then there’s the case of NBC airing edited video of a presidential candidate last month. The manipulated video made it appear he was surprised a convenience store was able to use technology to take sandwich orders.
BUT…the network had cut almost three minutes of the candidate’s commentary regarding the difference between the public and private sectors. The resulting edited version made it look like the candidate was out of touch with “regular” voters. If we view the unedited comments, he was facetiously comparing a tech-savvy small business to government bureaucracy.
– A little closer to home, if we examine our own conversations, we can identify times of exaggeration or selective communication of facts.
BUT…God tells us His standard for our speech is transparency and integrity. For example:
“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit” (Psalm 34:13).
“The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice” Psalm 37:30).
“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases” (Proverbs 26:20).
“To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2).
News outlets may re-arrange the truth to make headlines, but to paraphrase an old commercial, “we answer to a higher authority.” Let’s ensure that people know it by what we say. Then they won’t have to take our words “with a grain of salt.”