Perception versus the truth

The other day one of my cousins, who I grew up with, opened up about the emotional and verbal abuse she experienced throughout her upbringing, abuse that came from her father.

Everything I thought I knew about her and her family was flipped on its head. She seemed so happy and carefree. Her father was always a figure in the background, calm and quiet, I had no idea what went on when I, or one of the many other friends who was often over to play, wasn’t there.

I believed that my perception of their family was the truth. And in a way it was, she admits that there are happy memories and good times, but that wasn’t the whole story.

What I am trying to get at, is that there is always more going on behind the scenes than anyone will ever know about. We can’t possibly understand everything that a person has experienced, everything that influences how they make decisions because we weren’t there.

Let me apply this to a more newsworthy example. There have been negative outbursts to the government of Canada’s decision to decline international assistance in putting out the Fort McMurray fire.

I don’t really have an opinion either way. Why? Because I don’t know the whole story. I don’t have enough information to have an informed opinion.

I don’t know anything about the decision making processes of first responders. I don’t know much about international relations.

But the people who are making these decisions do.

As a journalist it is my job to question those decisions, to ask why and share that explanation with you. All I ask is that you, the consumers of content, take the time to think critically about what you read and form an enlightened opinion before you argue passionately for or against a decision.

You just might not have the whole story, and the whole story can change everything.