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When should the truth be withheld?

Media Arts 101

Susan Schiller

Bobby Petrocelli, one of the top motivational speakers in the country, visited our

high school recently. In fact he spends most of his time on college and high

school campuses throughout America to talk about all of the life changing issues

that young people face today. Things like decision making, peer pressure,

abstinence, random violence and substance abuse are all topics that as difficult as

they might be, need to be discussed. Petrocelli runs a non-profit organization to

talk about 10 Seconds. A drunk driver crashed through the wall of his bedroom in

the middle of the night killing his wife instantly. His story exemplifies the fact

that most decisions are made in the time frame of only 10 seconds, yet have an

impact on your life forever. What happens for the rest of our life depends on how

we react to this very short but striking occurrence. Petrocelli has taken a horrible

situation and made it his life’s work and promises if he reaches one person, it is

enough. He is speaking out for the fireman and every other person who has

suffered at the hands of an alcohol related tragedy. He does it with compassion

and forgiveness for the man who took his wife’s life. Hiding the truth does not

make it go away. The fireman who died because he had one too many beers and

went to fight fires anyway doesn’t get to react to what happened to him in 10

short seconds. How he has served his community with bravery and courage for 17

years has not changed and it is sad that this final indiscretion must be revealed

but there is still an opportunity for someone else, maybe another fireman, to

make an informed decision based on what they know. The decisions that tend to

be the most controversial usually bring about the most opinions. Although ethics

in media teaches to avoid the extremes and rely on personal instincts, the

complexities are understated. Society might be better served in finding that

respect may be found even in the most compelling arguments and someone who

does not agree is not always your enemy. Life isn’t easy and doesn’t consistently

offer option A or B or even C and remaining neutral will not further the greater

good. Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa, author of Language in Thought and Action

discussed a multi-valued decision making process that some see as the best

alteration to Aristotle’s Golden Mean. In opening our minds to a variety of

thoughts and beliefs without limit, we allow every person to come to their own

conclusions based on what they know. The key word here is to know, the

realizations we come to are a result of what we have been exposed to. Decisions

passed by a few handed down to the masses are part of the past that need not

return. Hitler was one of the most horrifying examples of leadership and labels

gone terribly wrong. Everyone and everything was given the label of acceptance

or rejection. There were only two choices and both were wrong. The value of

hearing everyone’s opinion is in the forefront. It is the responsibility of the media

to provide the people with the facts in a respectful manner and allow a multi

faceted reply. Everyone gets to have a say, everyone matters, and everyone can

make a difference. “Of course, journalists traditionally are expected to serve the

public by questioning the powerful who spend tax money, hopefully for the

benefit of the commonwealth. To serve as watchdogs, reporters who follow

Aristotle's Middle Path will only find the truth if they also pursue Hayakawa's

goal of understanding complex issues through multi-orientation.” (Kilmer)

Works Cited

Kilmer, Paulette D. Two-Valued Orientation-Mirror Opposite of Aristotle's

Golden Mean Referenced 8 Dec. 2009




Moos, Julie, 100 Things Journalists Should Never Do, 6 Dec. 2009, Referenced 8

Dec. 2009

McCormick, Matt, Kant: Metaphysics, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 30

June, 2005, Referenced 8 Dec. 2009

Petrocelli, Bobby, 10 Seconds Will Change Your Life Forever, Honornet, 1 June,