Our news is filled with events resulting from prejudice and hatred. Recent events in Paris, New York City and Cleveland are examples; ongoing conflicts in the Near East, Iraq and Afghanistan are based on longstanding prejudice and hatred.

However we get our news – through newspapers, television, radio, social media, a person at the local supermarket – we need to be mindful of Ken Follett’s warning in his novel “Fall of Giants.”

He wrote that the talent of a certain newspaperman (but this may apply to any source of our news) “was to express his readers’ most stupid and ignorant prejudices as if they made sense, so that the shameful seemed respectable,” and that “it was stupid, but people needed someone to hate, and the newspapers (and again we may substitute any source) were always ready to supply that need.”

Let’s make sure we are not caught in the trap of accepting others’ prejudices as the respectable truth or of allowing the news provider to supply someone for us to hate.

We do not have to accept as true what we hear and read; we can ask questions and decide for ourselves. Ask if the source has something to gain from us believing the message. Ask what the opposing viewpoint is.

Ask if the source is prejudiced. Ask what the facts are. Ask if the message is appealing to our logic or to our feelings. Ask what our own prejudices are and how they shape our thoughts.

These hard questions are well worth asking to keep us from being caught in someone else’s prejudices, hatred or lies. Let’s think for ourselves!

Susan Gross