Every day we see evidence of a growing chasm between the perception of facts and the acceptance of facts. There are members of society that appear to be intellectually incurious or even factually incurious. They neatly compartmentalize things into rich or poor, patriot or traitor, black or white with no shades of gray. This type of thinking attempts to simplify complex issues and in my opinion is lazy.

Attempts to pigeonhole groups or concepts into tidy constructs also limits the quality of the debate by blurring the details and facts of an issue. An example is the argument proposed by some that we cannot support our troops if we don’t also support their mission. We can and do support our troops regardless of their mission but that debate is for another post.

The point here is that some people choose sides on an issue without taking in all the details and all sides and argue with platitudes and injunctions. “We’re fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here”, or “freedom isn’t free” or “stay the course”. This is easy, it doesn’t require any thought. Someone else has written that platitude and it is so easy just to parrot it. It is lazy. It is a way to ‘cut and run’ from the issue.

Really looking into an issue forces us to suspend our comfort level to risk our belief system and to work. It is easy to pass a homeless person asking for a handout when you don’t consider what may have led them to that circumstance. Now we know that one in four homeless are veterans. Now we know that hard working families have lost their homes through no fault of their own due to the mismanagement of the sub prime mortgage market. When we know some of these details it is much harder not to pass a sandwich or a couple of bucks out the window.

Here in Coquille it is comfortable for some to accept a one sided presentation to the grand jury as proof of both innocence and guilt. A civil suit will argue the merits of that issue so I needn’t do it here. The point I want to make is that it is possible to support the police officers, like them personally, appreciate their time on Special Olympics and their contributions and still take issue with how they do their jobs. It is possible to support the police department and still want accountability.

Society cannot make reasoned choices and decisions without all the facts, without all sides of a story. Making decisions without these facts does a huge disservice to all members and hurts society as a whole. Who really benefits by extracting $187,500 a year in fines from a community with a 7.8% unemployment rate? Who benefits from incarcerating non violent offenders? Who benefits from police harassment or brutality? To love your community and your fellow man requires everyone to evaluate facts, all facts even if you have to dig deep for them. To do anything less is irresponsible and reflects a lack of regard for your fellow citizen.