Monday, September 30, 2013

"objectivity" on my behalf

In the end, it's a rock-and-a-hard-place, I guess. Nevertheless, I think it's worth attending to -- the matter of "objectivity."

Objectivity used to be a touchstone in the news business, for example. Reporters were sometimes willing to credit their organizations or themselves with the ability to present the facts without taint or bias. It was important to sieve out personal bias as a means of getting to the hub of the subject or problem. And, whatever the protestations, it never worked. Someone had to choose the wording and the placement of the facts and those choices were of themselves a matter of personal decision-making.

And the same is true of individuals: People may claim to want to solve some vexing problem and they may know that in order to do that, one of the first orders of business is to extract their own leanings. And yet it never works.

But just because it doesn't work doesn't mean it shouldn't be attempted. Why? Because nine chances out of ten, personal opinion and bias does not contribute to a solution -- it merely contributes to self-aggrandizement dressed up in "objectivity."

If this is anywhere close to being accurate, it strikes me that the fruitful options are limited:

1. Admit openly from the get-go that you have a dog in this fight -- a personal opinion or position that is, admittedly, personal. As such, you acknowledge that you want things to come out your way ... that others will/should agree with your bias and thereafter you will feel somehow enhanced or supported or, more likely, "right." This approach has the advantage of honesty ... if that counts for anything.

2. Bust your hump in an attempt to allow all evidence to enter. You know it will never work perfectly, but you do your best to set aside your willingness to add or subtract what is purely personal. You ask yourself, "Which is more important -- the issue at hand or my opinion about the issue at hand?"

I guess I am thinking about this (poorly, I admit) in a spiritual context as much as anything else... of the number of kerfuffles that I have seen come and go and of the number of times that the arguments and improvements adduced have more to do with the institutional position or the self-serving and self-preserving attitudes of the provider and less to do with the "serious issue" at hand. It may sound sweet and it may sound reasonable, but the objectivity factor takes a back seat to some very personal need or insistence. It all sounds good and reasonable and true and factual ... but the agenda is pretty obvious ... and smells of cowardice to the extent it is not admitted.

As I say -- it's a rock and a hard place. There is no pure-as-the-driven-snow objectivity. If there were, all things would dissolve and where would "I" be? And yet to say that and then infer that any position I take is therefore legitimate and helpful and honest ... is bullshit. Some issues are important enough to be worth setting aside the prestige and loftiness of a much-imagined institution or position.

Will it work?


But I'm still in favor of that sort of personal effort.

Just blithering.

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