We live in an impatient world. We take 2-minute clips and issue quick judgments.
We are becoming a YouTube justice system: short audio or video clips, without complete context or secretly recorded to capture the slip-up, and then wham! you are caught and condemned, with little opportunity to explain or defend.
The latest episode in our YouTube justice system is Shirley Sherrod. If all you viewed was the short clip, you would think she was a racist. Listen to the full speech, and you would hear the thoughtful discussion and lessons learned in life about overcoming prejudices and importance of helping people when in need.
If it wasn’t so damaging, it would be comical to watch how the cable news channels one day are condemning Shirley Sherrod and the very next morning praising her and condemning the people who forced her resignation. We have a large pipe of TV air time which must be filled, so let’s just fill it with whatever has turned viral and don’t find out the rest of the story.
Can you imagine Paul Harvey in today’s world? During one of his dramatic pauses in telling the “rest of the story,” the news flash would be issued and judgment passed without the complete story!
Is this the society we have become? Do we really want a YouTube justice system? Are we that fearful of cable news “talking heads” and 24-hour news cycles that we must make snap judgments without the context or all the facts?
The Department Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has shown poor leadership and a lack of strong character in the handling of this situation. Expediency was his objective – get rid of this story before Glenn Beck comes on! He was not the only guilty party, even the NAACP judged Shirley Sherrod one way yesterday and a better way today. Making decisions based on political convenience does not make a good leader, and it does not exhibit solid principles to move our society forward.
We need to exhibit better leadership qualities in our judgments and better character qualities in our decisions. We need patience, along with context and facts.