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Up until mid-March, I spent little time actually watching news. About fifteen years ago, I gave up cable television in favor of focusing on other forms of entertainment and leisure. Enter the pandemic. Because this event impacts me directly, I have kept a close eye on developments via local and national news. For the last month or so, the news media has delivered non-stop coverage on the COVID crisis. They provide up-to-date infection totals and death rates as well as personal stories of tragedy and good deeds.
I never knew just how polarizing our news outlets are set up. I mean, I heard that FOX news added a conservative bent to political going-ons, while CNN provided a liberal perspective. However, until I spent hours watching both, I had no idea just how biased they present ‘the facts.’
That observation aside, I also noticed how often they throw out polls. For example, I read an article about a mayor who advocated an immediate opening of all businesses. Clearly, the one writing the article did not care for the idea, given the tone of the writing. Included in the article was a poll, which indicated that a strong majority of people did not agree with the mayor. Of course, we have polls regarding the President’s job performance during this crisis. At one point, he has a majority supporting him. A few days later, he looks bad.
I could write pages about the challenges with these polls. The devil is in the details, as they say. Were the people polled in a largely democratic area? It comes as no surprise that most democrats tend to look unfavorable upon a republican mayor or president. Who sponsored the poll? Was bias involved? Was the sampling size large enough?
Yet, those who know me know that I care about what really matters; the matter of the heart. When I see these polls provided as some sort of support regarding these debatable matters (especially matters of ethics), I worry about the reason why the reporter includes the poll data. Its inclusion implies that the reporter believes readers want to know what the majority think on the subject. The further implication, of course, is that if the majority feel a certain way about a course of action, it must be the best course of action to take. Furthermore, anyone who decides otherwise, must have eaten crazy beans for breakfast! The larger the majority agreeing on a subject, the more one can feel certain that the course of action chosen by the majority must, in fact, be good and proper.
History has shown us time and again that the majority often takes the wrong course. It was mere decades ago that a majority of Americans thought that it was cool to smoke. Hitler won over his countrymen with a well-run government and moving speeches. A majority of Germans supported him going into his bloody war. Going further back, a majority in the south supported slavery.
So why do we present polls as if they give some indication of whether or not our country heads in a good direction? Well, this likely happens because we no longer hold onto God’s truth. Instead of looking to Him and His Word for direction, we look inside ourselves. As a result, we often change opinion on important topics, such as abortion, gay marriage, and more. Like the wind, few people know which direction our country will take next.
The Bible warns us that none are good and that the heart is wicked and deceitful. And if any of us came clean, we would admit that we are not good people. Perhaps we should not rely on ourselves, any leader, president, group or even majority opinion to determine what is right and wrong. Maybe, just maybe… we should follow the creator instead of his creation.