April Commander's Corner
By Lt. Col. Michael Ferrario, 157th Fighter Squadron
/ Published April 01, 2020
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --
The current international crisis with Coronavirus has highlighted the need in our country for informed, logical perspectives and corresponding decisions. As service members, your family, friends, neighbors, and community look up to you. When crises arise, your opinion will frequently be sought out. You will often find that you are a sounding board for other people’s opinions. Our community members want to know our thoughts, and they want to know what we think of their opinions. As a service member, this simply comes with the territory. Whether we want this responsibility or not, it is ours. We have both an opportunity and responsibility when we are asked about world events and crises. The opportunity is to shape perspectives that keep our community safe, morally sound, and true to our values. The responsibility is to support these ideals with facts, logic, and informed opinions.
Because of this unique position in our communities, it is not enough to simply have an opinion. Our opinions need to be backed up by facts and expertise. The sources that you use to form your opinions matter. This is where it gets challenging and where most of us have to put in labor and leave our comfort zone. The news sources that we use to form our opinions must be objective. Finding these types of sources seems to be more difficult each year as our political environment polarizes and “news sources” spin events to match their world view and desired outcomes. Don’t just stick with your favorite source without question. Explore other options and sample other opinions. It is imperative that you critically assess everything you hear for bias. Compare your primary news sources with other outlets, especially from outlets with whose opinion you often disagree. You can only assure your own objectivity if you continually listen and assess dissenting ideas. Learn to recognize when your source is not correct. Form your own opinions based on multiple sources and your internal logic. Have the bravery to disagree with common opinions when your well-researched and informed logic leads you in a different direction. We have all seen over the past month how reckless speculation, misinformation, and a lack of understanding has led to confusion and panic. This has been the case on both sides of the political spectrum.
Once each of us has gathered the facts to the best of our ability, we must form a logical perspective that advocates for responsible actions. Remember, your community is looking up to you. You must always be the voice of reason and logic. You can never allow over-reaction or panic to define you. In the case of the Coronavirus, our neighbors are looking to us for opinions on how the nation is reacting, what we think of the various origin theories, and how we believe the community should proceed. I hope that all of you can say that you are advocating for thoughtful, reasoned actions, and that you support your opinions with facts that have been checked.
Being vocal is also our responsibility. Do not allow reckless opinions to go unchallenged. Often, silence is viewed as acceptance. Have the courage to speak up. Many others do not have this courage and will join you once they hear a reasonable perspective. You are a leader in your community, whether you are an Airman 1st Class or Colonel. An informed, logical, and calm individual is a commodity in any community. You have an opportunity to be that person. Embrace it.