Murdock: Love is truth, and truth is love
Lead With Love
I was drawn to journalism as a major in college because of storytelling. As a child, I witnessed my father often — pretty much always — taking an opportunity to talk to people and learn more about them. He would engage in political conversations or just ask complete strangers about their family, where they came from, what they loved to do, etc. He especially loved it when he found a foreigner or immigrant to talk to. They would often be suspicious at first. Then, I would notice them relax, laugh even, and you could see a sparkle in their eyes as they experienced the sensation of being seen by someone who cared. That was his gift.
I admired this quality in my dad to essentially talk to strangers with authentic interest. I feel like a lot of my curiosity about people and the world came from watching him in action.
I remember being so sad when cell phones first came out, and I rode a chairlift with several others who — instead of engaging in the usual chair-lift banter as I’d done since I was a wee little one riding the chairlift with strangers (I grew up skiing in California, so it was essential to take the singles line to avoid 45-min lift lines) — were all staring at their phones or had headphones in listening to music. My dad would be so disappointed, I thought. Not even one, “Hi, how are ya?” Things had changed.
When I studied journalism in college, I felt inspired that my job would help people. We were, as my teachers told me, “the watchdog of the government.” Exciting! Our mission: Seek truth, and report it. How righteous is that? I loved it. I loved being in the room where it happened.
Even though it was often so boring to cover all of the tediously long city council and county commisioners meetings, I felt proud that I was responsible for seeking the truth and reporting it to help people understand what their local government and elected officials were up to. This is an essential part of a democratic society!
When I read recently what went down at The Aspen Times over the past several months, how the paper’s new ownership temporarily blocked reporting on a defamation suit against the paper, and the paper paused coverage critical to our public interest, I felt sad. The state of modernday media seems so far from our gilded journalistic code of ethics. I also felt inspired by the many veteran journalists and columnists at The Times, and the editor who stood up for the truth as best they could under extremely challenging circumstances. Thanks to you guys. Being a good and ethical journalist, or politician for that matter, is a pretty thankless job.
As the founder of Lead with Love, I have often pondered, “What is love?” To me, the closest thing I’ve found is love is truth. I feel the most loved when I can speak what is true for me and be heard. This makes my hands tremble at times, but my heart sing. So, in that sense, love and truth also feel like freedom. In a modern society, where truth in the media is severely endangered — and the word “freedom” has been hijacked by a party spewing lies — love is perhaps the only thing that will bring us back. Truth begets love begets freedom begets truth …
As I’ve gotten older I realize the energetic toll of being dishonest, with myself or others. It can be so alluring sometimes to get away with something that seems like it might release some pressure or make life easier. It doesn’t. I’ve hurt people in my life by not being 100% honest, but what hurt the most is living with a version of myself that was not in integrity with who I know I am. I am a lover. That means I am a truth teller. And, that means, no matter the circumstances, I am free.
Gina Murdock is the founder of Lead with Love, an Aspen-based nonprofit dedicated to shifting culture from fear to love. Journalists around the world are being persecuted and killed for telling the truth. To help protect free journalism, a cornerstone of any democracy, check out Committee to Protect Journalists at cpj.org. For more information about Lead with Love, go to http://www.ileadwithlove.org.