Swimming Against the Tide of Misinformation

Considering the immense scope of the good they believe they contribute to, does it really matter if certain details in their understanding are amiss? Isn't it petty to chastise them for these minor discrepancies?

The late Marek Owsiński, the first chairman of Polskie Radio after 1989, wittily observed about various directors and officials he met in his reformative journey that “their knowledge of things does not cloud their clear view.” This saying, both roguish and melancholic, resonated deeply with the era just ending. At that time, a healthy dose of melancholic resignation was vital to not be driven insane by constant, deliberate attempts to 'fix' the world, coupled with a roguish courage to occasionally jam the system, mystifying all about the cause of the halt. This was essential in navigating a world controlled by those with access to knowledge hidden from the masses, often referred to with respect as "the seen ones." Over time, it was revealed that this system had seamlessly adapted to the new era. Those who thought it had disappeared with communism were painfully mistaken; the need for a certain melancholy and readiness for sudden, cunning defiance remained. The mediocre often prospered in high places, their success stemming from their ability to appease those above. But what about the ordinary people, those who resent being considered simple? A recent incident involved a political science professor from Berkeley, disturbed by his students supporting Hamas in anti-Israel protests. Curious about their understanding, he surveyed 250 participants about the river and sea mentioned in their chants. Astonishingly, about half were clueless, offering answers like the Nile or Euphrates and the Caribbean or Dead Sea. Their enthusiasm for the cause was undiminished by their ignorance. The professor's column on this ended with a sensible note: "Being ignorant is no cause for shame, provided one does not support extermination." This implies an expectation for even the uninformed to possess a basic understanding, especially when advocating for matters of significant consequence. This story underscores the complex interplay between passionate activism and informed understanding in contemporary society.
The authors of the satirical vaudeville play 'The Career of Alpha Omega' (“Kariera Alfa Omegi”) at a dress rehearsal. From left: Julian Tuwim, director Fryderyk Jarossy and Marian Hemar. Photo: NAC/ IKC/ Stanisław Brzozowski
At this juncture, we ought to pose a question to the esteemed Professor: Why is it that those whose ignorance seems to brighten their perspective, stripping the world's complexities from their sight, should restrain their actions? Why shouldn't those who, with the endearing naivety of a child, believe Yasser Arafat was Israel's first Prime Minister, suggest Netanyahu leave the Palestinian children in peace? Why should those unable to differentiate between a migrant and a refugee hold back their expressions of humanitarianism towards individuals at the border? SIGN UP TO OUR PAGE
  Moreover, why shouldn't those whose knowledge of Catholicism is limited to memes call for the Church to designate vegetarian Fridays to save the planet from meat-eaters? Or those whose knowledge of Lech Wałęsa is cursory at best, yet believe he single-handedly toppled communism, not fervently support parties branding themselves as democrats, thereby inadvertently branding others as anti-democrats? These individuals are convinced they're part of a righteous narrative, champions of peace, goodness, and democracy, guardians of the future for themselves and their progeny. In the grand scheme of their perceived moral crusade, do minor inaccuracies in their understanding truly matter? Is pointing out such discrepancies merely petty? It appears, then, that the most significant global conflict we face is between those who endeavor to grasp the world's complexity and those who prefer the comforting notion that they are unequivocally doing good, a belief reinforced by the creators of numerous compelling 'narratives.' This clash isn't merely about facts but about the interpretation and application of those facts in a world increasingly swayed by simplified, yet powerful, stories.

Clash of civilizations

Between the Odra and the Bug there are no national tensions like those that troubled the Second Polish Republic. Some matters are still relevant though.

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The few and the diligent, immeasurably outnumbered, persist in their quest. They laboriously read and inquire, battling against both the relentless march of time and the arduous quest for information, which, paradoxically, is most obscured when most valuable. In a world where every institution loudly proclaims its dedication to "transparency" and "openness" right from the start, this tireless search for truth is frustratingly normal. Yet they often find themselves outmatched in this battle, as the sheer volume of information available is overwhelming. One of the most cunning tactics of freedom's adversaries is their ability to flood the field with a deluge of seemingly pertinent information and contrived controversies. Some, weary from the fight, resign themselves to adopting a narrative view of the world, crafting for themselves reverse-character stories or gravitating towards the notion of a universal conspiracy. However, if there truly is a conspiracy at play, it's more likely to resemble Hemarov's 'great conspiracy of idiots' than any meticulously orchestrated scheme. Thus, for those who resist the temptation to drown in the sea of spurious reasoning, the path remains as it was: to embrace a wholesome melancholy to maintain one's mental equilibrium and to harbor an inner readiness to display shrewd bravery when the situation demands it. This is my earnest hope for you. With this sustained effort, may you find a balance between understanding the world's complexities and maintaining the spirit's equilibrium in the face of overwhelming odds. – Robert Bogdański

TVP WEEKLY. Editorial team and jornalists

– Translated by Roberto Galea
Main photo: A pro-Palestinian demonstration in Washington DC in front of the Israeli embassy on 15 December 2023. Photo by Probal Rashid / Zuma Press / Forum
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