Two Kinds of Rot

Haywain window rot

There are two kinds of rot: the kind shown in this photo of our haywain window and the less obvious kind often mistaken for ‘informed opinion’ or even genuine expertise. Time and money will sort out the former, but what do we do about the latter? We have become so accustomed to the idea of ‘fake news’ and the right of everyone to express their own opinion on any subject under the sun (a right I would dispute when the opinion is knowingly fallacious or malicious) that we have great difficulty recognizing rot for what it is when we hear or read it. That doesn’t let us off the hook, however, because if we fail to challenge it, or even worse, collude with it, we are guilty of a moral cowardice that has consequences for all of us. The store of falsehood in the world goes up, and the store of truth goes down.

During the past week we have seen some outrageous examples of rot circulating online and off — about those involved in the Charlie Gard case, the political situation in Kenya, Brexit, and so on. Most of us can’t claim to have any real inside knowledge of any of these, but we can think before we post something that is potentially damaging or untrue. St Benedict has a great deal to say on the subject of restraint of speech. Like St James, he recognized that we can do great harm if we let our tongues run away with us — and how easy it is to do that. Personally, I don’t like the idea of ending up like our poor haywain window, apparently fit for purpose on the outside but rotten within; so I shall spend part of today thinking about the way in which I express my own opinions, and whether they are sound or not. Who will join me?

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12 thoughts on “Two Kinds of Rot”

  1. I will for one, D.Catherine, because I’ve made it standard practice as my time online has increased and I’ve taken more opportunities to express my opinion publicly. Many’s the time I’ve self-edited in this way.

    Can I enter a small reservation, however, in respect of your disputing the right to express fallacious opinions? (I agree about malicious opinions, but there are already sanctions for those). Like you I wish they weren’t out there and do what I can not to add to their number, but even so I recoil from the idea that a person should be prevented from expressing them. That would require some sort of third party to be invested with powers of a somewhat Orwellian nature and I see too much scope for such powers to be misused. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

  2. This is a topic of been becoming aware of more and more recently. Twitter offers so many opportunities to ‘pile on’ when something seems to fit my/our definition of wrong. Often we/I don’t even verify the details before adding my voice.
    I will commit myself to reflecting more and longer before joining the crowd – or not reposting.

  3. I will join you. Lesson lent:”we can do great harm if we let our tongues run away with us and how easy it is to do that” great word

  4. Sometimes (and increasingly) I just have to remember it’s not just me God has on Earth to do everything and fight every fire *rueful face*

  5. An ouch moment
    A friend and I were having coffee together and regrettably involved in some character assassination .I happened to see a notice.on the cafe wall ” Jesus is present in every conversation ” oh dear .
    Forgiveness sought and claimed ..
    And so it is with what we post and offer our opinion upon .
    And surely it starts with our thoughts . Reflection needed .
    Set a guard over my mouth today please Lord .

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