Be Sure to Get Perspective

One of the things you learn the hard way in both writing and IT consulting is getting perspective. People want to believe something is true so they push that as the problem to solve. As a writer you may believe passionately in a position or subject which is patently false. We’ve all heard about “fake news” lately. Well, somebody writes those things, hopefully it is not you. If you do have some involvement I should point out that if you have any level of success even a Pen Name or on-line persona won’t hide your true identity for long.

I got involved in a Usenet discussion about impeachment today (I know I should have been writing but sometimes people who don’t take their meds can be entertaining) which is how this whole concept of perspective came up. I started to remember how, though I was too young to vote, supported the impeachment of President Richard Nixon for committing perjury.

Yes, most people who didn’t live through it have had to study Watergate, but, unless you lived through the time you cannot really get the feel for it and the sense of a changing perspective. Nixon was universally hated for lying under oath. I grew up in a Republican household and all of the Republican’s we knew hated him for it. We got onto the discussion of how both of the Clintons committed perjury while in the White House and aren’t universally scorned as Nixon pretty much still is today.

Many of you will be far too young to have been around during Watergate. Some of you may well be the young historians to investigate and right horrible views and miscarriages of justice. It appears a few of you have already started down that path with this site listing a top 10 count down of things Nixon did for America. For those unwilling to click the link and read I will list them here without all of the explanation.

  • Created the EPA – this is why people are going to prison over Flint Michigan drinking water and why we have drinking water standards
  • Ended the Draft
  • National Cancer Act on the 23rd of December 1971 – most of us know someone who is still alive because of this
  • Cut the deficit by 70%
  • First president to fight for Guaranteed Health Care – he lost but he fought for it and his plan was much like Obamacare
  • A Guaranteed Income – he lost but he fought for it.
  • Lowering The Voting Age with the 26th Amendment – few remember there was a time when a teenager could drive a car, have their own place and be sent to war yet not have the right to vote. That time ended with the 26th Amendment.
  • First example of Affirmative Action in U.S. history with the Philadelphia Plan
  • Title IX gender equality
  • Desegregation

Admittedly I was a bit shocked when I found this list. The guy we still universally hate really did a lot when looks back gaining perspective on it. Actually, when you look back at what he both did and fought for he sounds a lot like Bernie Sanders today. Well, Nixon without the perjury thing sounds a lot like Bernie Sanders today.

While some may say this is political spin, I want to use it to make a point in the world of 24×7 social media and things like the Internet Archive Project (which I mostly believe to be a bad idea.) When you tweet or post with passion and little to no perspective, you run the risk of that never going away. Of it always turning up when someone chooses to research you. If you are an author, one horrible thing, like writing fake news under a Pen Name or writing for a lobbyist or other propaganda machine will forever shred your credibility. Ask old people what they remember about Richard M. Nixon and you will get responses along the lines of “He was hated!” “He was a crook!” “He lied!” Few of the older generations will mention even one thing on this list though we, of all people, should now have perspective.

Title IX has been in the news a lot lately. At least there have been quite a few shows on NPR about it. Because of someone my generation and older will probably never forgive, female athletics exist at colleges. Most of you will have voted before leaving High School. All of us know someone who has been touched by cancer and most of us know a few who beat it all because of the research funding. The list goes on and on. Your lives were made better by someone who was and perhaps still is the most hated President in the history of the United States.

Do us all a favor. Take time and gain perspective before joining the live-to-regret-it crowd.