Editor’s Column: Rush to judgment

The squirrels are back. We had to replace the battery in my car this week and

Niki Turner
discovered another stash of almond shells. My husband took his truck in for an oil change and there were almond shells in his truck’s engine compartment. Apparently while we’re sleeping the squirrels who inhabit our trees are having wild almond keggers.
My knee-jerk reaction? Who is feeding the squirrels almonds?
But I paused, in light of the reactionary extremism I’ve been subjected to online all week, and took a deep breath. Instead of accusing my neighbors of being almond dealers for our local squirrel population, I’m asking everyone who is hoarding almonds to check your supplies. It’s entirely possible the squirrels have broken in and are slowly relieving you of your entire cache.
My oldest son bought a 50-pound bag of rice during his “prepper” phase and stored it in his fifth wheel camper. Six months later that bag—forgotten in a closet—was reduced to shreds. Every single grain of rice had been surreptitiously hauled away by an army of field mice, obviously also prepping for the apocalypse. Somewhere on CR 15 there is an organized mouse militia with a mouse-sized Fort Knox full of rice.
I left the varmints a piece of toast yesterday morning as a sacrificial offering. It was gone when I came home. Maybe they’ll stay out of our vehicles now. Wishful thinking.

Speaking of knee-jerk reactions… In our modern culture it’s possible to react to news immediately. Just a generation ago, if you wanted to react to news you had to write a letter, then you had to figure out where and to whom to send it, find an envelope and a stamp and take it to the mailbox. Or you could call and leave a message on an answering machine, but that meant you had to look up the phone number in an actual phone book, and nothing—particularly government organizations—was listed in logical order.
In other words, by the time you figured out who to respond to, the initial chemical rush inspired by your sense of righteous indignation had abated.
All those hindrances to explosive personality disorder (not a real disorder, I made that up) have been lifted thanks to the Internet. I’m guilty. You probably are, too. We read and follow and listen to sources that appeal to our confirmation bias (in other words, they agree with what we already think and believe, so we like them, whether they tell the truth or not).
Here’s a challenge for us all: When you come across information that demands an instant reaction use that as a warning to step back, maybe even sleep on it before you respond.
Take some time to examine all sides of the issue, not just the one you agree or disagree with. Find your peace before you react. The world, and you, will be a better place for it.