The deaths of 12 miners in Sago, West Virginia is no less a communication tragedy than the deaths of two Jersey City Police Officers who were killed in the line of duty after plunging off the edge of an open bridge last week.
The issue in Sago and Jersey City reverberates on a base human level:
Heartbreak in the miscommunication of truth.
It is human nature for
people to hear what they wish to hear even if the information is wrong.
When a miracle was initially interpreted in Sago, rejoicing and praise
of God spread over believers like wildfire.
When the fact of death was
revealed there was no more praise of God or of changing to a more
comforting metaphor of bringing the miners home to heaven — there was
only sorrow and sobbing as the truth hit the living hard in the heart.
In Jersey City, the miscommunication that killed the officers was just
as lethal as vital information was withheld from officers responding to
a call for help. Without knowing the fact the bridge has been raised
behind them, the two officers drove over the edge in their Emergency
Services truck. Their truck flipped and pancaked on top of them in the
rocky water below.
Facts do not always clearly translate into the truth: “We found 12
miners” extends to the wanting ear, “We found 12 miners alive.” When
“the bridge is raised” is not communicated to everyone on the ground,
that fact never tempers the pre-existing truth in the minds of the
uninformed that “the bridge is the same as it was when you drove over
it 30 seconds ago.”
We have a great responsibility to each other to
clearly and cogently protect and then communicate the truth with
verifiable facts beyond us and while those facts may be cold and hurt
they will ultimately find comfort in others who know it is always the
truth, and never the facts, that sets us free.