Responsibility and the Free Press

Every day we see stories from investigative reporters about neglect, abuse, corruption and graft by public and private officials who violate their oaths and responsibilities. Thank God for the free press. Notice what happens when the press or free speech is muzzled in many countries around the world – corruption runs amock. Somalia and North Korea lead the list. How many parents teach by their example that cheating, lying, stealing, etc., are OK if you don’t get caught? We may forget that kids are learning from parents’ and peers’ examples – what you do matters more than what you say.

I teased one of my granddaughters when she got a car from her folks to attend the University of Georgia. I said, “I think you’re getting spoiled.” She put me in my place immediately. “Grandpa, I’m privileged, not spoiled. With privilege comes responsibility, and I am responsible.” As proof of her statement, she graduated with honors from UGA with a master’s in journalism. She recently sold her nine-year-old car for 50 percent of what her parents paid for it.

Golf may be the only game where players call penalties on themselves. This could cost them thousands of dollars in prize money but boost their reputation among fellow players and fans alike. Another example of this principle in action is when a cabinet maker was asked why he made the bottom of the cabinet as beautiful as the front and top, since no one will notice it. He replied, “I notice it.”

Pride in one’s work is its own reward. Observe how we treat people who do the right thing and get their stories in the newspaper or on TV, Twitter or YouTube. Amazing that it’s news because it’s unusual or unexpected. They almost always remark, “I’m not a hero for merely doing the right thing.”

I believe the press (Underground in restricted countries), Internet, Twitter, Facebook and iPhone will bring about a remarkable change in societies around the world. Once the Genie was out of the bottle, it spread like wildfire. Information travels at amazing speed; what took Jules Verne 80 days to travel around the world now takes a couple of nano seconds.

I am very optimistic about the future. It’s in good hands.

John W. Merrick

Newnan



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