One of the most painful experiences in life is when someone lies about you. When they actively spread false tales to besmirch your good name it is soul shattering and worse, hard to overcome. The Bible says we are not to bear false witness yet we do it everyday (Exodus 20:16). We do it as much from ignorance as we do from willful intent to do harm.
Much of it stems from our ignorance about how to use the flood of information coming at us every day. We are often gullible and fall for every photo shopped image in the email, every partly true story, and every carefully selective set of statistics we see.
Modern students are taught more than basic research. They are taught information literacy. Research is too often here are tools and how to use them. Information literacy is about understanding information, knowing how to look for, select, and use information. Most importantly, however, are skills to evaluate and critique the information found. Is it good? Is is bad? Is there an agenda driving how this information is being presented?
Christians can get their feet tangled in the nets of error, bad behavior and unChristlike actions easily. We have views, beliefs, and convictions about politics, culture, and religion.
We should be above such things as spreading gossip, rumors, and bearing false witness. Yet, we cheerfully forward everything we get in an email or on a social networking page with glee if it includes a zinger against someone or some belief system we do not support.
An example is a photo purported to show the President and his wife saluting the flag with the wrong hand. It has been making the rounds for several years - yes years - and it is false. A quick check with Snopes.com reveals the larger, and uncropped, image that reveals important things in understanding the photo. The placement of decorations on the two Marines, for example.
It is perfectly permissible in the United States to complain, gripe, grumble, and discuss leaders. No one has to love them, merely give them due respect for the terms of their service in an office. Every few years we get the chance to do it all over again and allow the other party to give it a go. Then the other party gets to complain, gripe, grumble and discuss.
What we should not allow is the flagrant lying, the false witness, and the trial without witnesses or evidence. Christians, and all people of faith, need to develop some skills in analyzing information, their sources, uses and abuses. As Jesus said (in paraphrase) we should be as gentle as doves but as information literate as we can be to avoid being used.
Marilyn A. Hudson, M.L.I.S.