By Kari Diane Pike
I received an e-mail the other day that said:
“Please help do this... refuse to accept these [new dollar coins] when they are handed to you. I received one from the Post Office as change and I asked for a dollar bill instead. The lady just smiled and said "way to go" so she had read this e-mail. Please help out....our world is in enough trouble without this too!!!!!”
There was a photograph following the statement that showed a picture of the front of one of the new coins, pointing out that our national motto “In God We Trust” was missing. I knew the sender was highly concerned and that she considered her source to be reliable enough that she didn’t need to check to see if the story was true. (After all, there was a picture!) Fortunately, I have informed coin collectors in my house. It turns out that the story is true; at least the part of it that was told.
What the story doesn’t tell the reader is that the coins are minted with the date and the words “E Pluribus Unum” and the motto “In God We Trust” around the edge of the coin. A President’s head is on the front and the Statue of Liberty is on the back. What has become known as “the godless coin” is an error that occurred during the minting process. A certain number of the George Washington coins missed the edge minting and were circulated before the error was caught. Those coins are being purchased for anywhere from $350 - $1600 a piece.
Because of missing information, the story being sent around on the Internet is skewed, creating distrust and anger. In fact, I am seeing more and more e-mails circulating that are deliberately meant to create fear and distrust. Subtle changes in words, missing facts and details, and attaching a “reliable source” are just a few of the tricks used to lead us down a path of mass confusion.
I heard Sheri Dew relate an experience that illustrates a big reason we are so easily taken in by these urban legends. She was with a group of LDS women when a certain topic arose. Sister Dew asked if any of them had heard what had been said concerning the subject during the General Relief Society Broadcast just a few days before. None of the women had taken the time to watch the broadcast or listen to it. One sister commented that she probably should look it up on the internet, but then asked, “Did you hear what Oprah had to say about the topic during her show the other day?” When Sister Dew asked her how she had time to watch Oprah, since she worked, the woman told her she never misses the show because she makes sure she records it every day. Sister Dew wondered how this woman could tape Oprah everyday, but not take one evening to listen to the messages the Lord was sending us through his Prophet and Church leaders. I’m not saying Oprah is bad. She has accomplished a great deal and tries to help people all over the world. But she is aware of how much power she has and she does all she can to influence others to think the way she does. Where are we putting our faith?
As writers, do we truly comprehend the extent to which we influence our readers? I doubt it. I recently attended an incredible leadership seminar that taught me a great deal about power and influence as it pertains to leadership. [See my next blog for a report!] As writers, we have a great responsibility and opportunity to disseminate truth. We don’t need to sensationalize or skew the story. Nor do we want to. If we put all our efforts into sharing uplifting and enlightening truth, we will discover that we have the power to help others be and do more than they ever imagined.