Food for Thought by Leigh Currey Merrifield

A good friend of mine from out of state called me the other day at work and said she had a story tip for me.  Her husband had just read on Facebook about a radio interview that made a very favorable mention of Clarksburg, WV.

I listened to the details, did a little research, and was not able to verify it.  I even looked up the radio news spot where I learned that it has built its reputation on satirical, exaggerated “news” that is not necessarily true. (I guess I have to ‘trust’ that this source, too was reliable!!??)  Since then, I’ve learned that this is not unusual.  Apparently there are entities that do this – mention celebrities and mention businesses – to gain them public favor, but none of the story is true.

Here is the story – but I won’t mention any names.  I’m only repeating it at all to set an example of how easily we can be sucked into a good story – particularly when it’s favorable!  According to what was reported, a celebrity was driving a rental car in our area and had some car trouble.  He had pulled off the road and was in the process of  contacting the rental company about his problem when two kind gentlemen stopped and asked if he needed help.  One said that his brother had a towing company and he would call and get the vehicle towed for repairs.  While they waited for the repairs to be handled, the two men offered to take him to lunch since he was unfamiliar with the area.  They visited a local restaurant and the celebrity (who, by the way, was not recognized by the two Good Samaritans), mentioned the name of the place and said he had enjoyed the best pizza he had ever eaten.

The celebrity was very taken by the kindness of these strangers and went as far as to say that this sort of humanity isn’t found everywhere, but the people in Clarksburg, WV are the “real deal”.  He also added that when he retired, THIS was the kind of place where he would like to settle!

The one truth that was reported is that there ARE good people around here!  Otherwise, it was a hoax.  The celebrity probably scored some points and so did the restaurant, but it was not factual.  And, it certainly didn’t say much for this “star” that he was not known to either of the men who helped him out – nor was he recognized by the towing people, the car repair people or anyone at the restaurant!  So much for fame, huh?

Here is my question?  How reliable is what we read?  Have you ever been at a checkout and pass the time looking at the headlines on the cover of what I call “dirt sheets”?  They find a horrific photo of a movie star and naturally don’t photoshop it.  Then they accompany the picture with a highly sensational headline to grab your attention.  I’ve seen it reported that “so and so” has only weeks to live!   Just months later, that same person is captured looking picture perfect at some gala.   But people buy these tabloids and consider themselves “informed” about what is going on.  I’m sure it is more “entertainment” than news.

As I watch and listen to national news broadcasts in the morning and evening, there are times when I’m almost ashamed to admit that I work in the field of “news”.   National news is so biased and often unfair, and we rely on their “opinions” to influence us.  No wonder Americans’ confidence in the media’s ability to report accurately, fully, and fairly is so low and keeps edging downward.

The big question is “Who DO we trust?”  If I’m to be honest, I’m not sure I would roll down my window to a stranger if I had car trouble on the road for fear of what might transpire!  Even police officers are impersonated in today’s world, so let me ask again – “Who DO we trust?”

I am often appalled by the number of transmissions we get here at our office from the Attorney General’s office that concern scams!  Don’t get me wrong – it is good to be informed about them so that we know to be wary and what to do or what NOT to do if we receive a scamming phone call.  The problem is that, shamefully, there are so many people who will go to any lengths to act dishonestly!

The bottom line is that trust is important – whether it be in relationships between people, communities, organizations, businesses, nations, even our trust in information technology!

One of the first things babies learn is about trust; they feel that sense of security with their parents and they know they can rely on them.  Isn’t it sad that as they grow up, they soon realize that who they can trust is sometimes a challenge?

A lesson to learn …. Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair!

This week’s dessert:  “Broken trust is like melted chocolate.  No matter how hard you try to freeze it, you can never return it to its original shape.”  ~ Author Unknown