“The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Norvell, Jun. 11, 1807
Were progress to be marked by a relative proximity to truth, these past two hundred years have seen little movement. The same inquietudes weigh upon men now as they did then, though they are presented more quickly and with less respite, thanks to the digital revolution.
Were Jefferson to have written the quote above in 2014 rather than 1807, he likely would’ve substituted “internet” for “newspaper” and “it” for “them,” but apart from that, the statement would not need to be altered. The modern media outlets which vie for man’s attention are no less polluted now than they were then. In these vehicles, style trumps substance, gossip and intrigue upstage tales of righteousness and the greater part of words spoken and written tend to perpetuate the primacy of human nature over truth.
Much more can be learned of truth from a conversation with one’s neighbor, gardener or even a perfect stranger while traveling. Such encounters tend to remind us that we are all on the same planet together, with a shared purpose: the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment. I personally find meeting new people to be invigorating on the balance, whereas an equal amount of time spent reviewing the news of the day tends to sap my energy and diminish my hopes for a brighter, better future.
What about you?