Hello. I thought we could have a word today about the difference between skepticism and cynicism.
Journalists are not strangers to being called cynical or jaded. Some of us even believe that jaded behavior is an asset for a journalist. It makes us immune to being taken for a ride, I have heard some of my peers say.
Sometimes this is a defense mechanism for all the things we have to see and the regularity with which people lie to us. (It’s often.) Sometimes it is in a reporter’s very nature to be cynical and so that frames their relationship with journalism.
But I don’t believe cynicism helps me as a journalist. Cynicism doesn’t leave much room for very many possibilities, including learning something new about my community or something new about someone in it.
Which is why I was so taken aback on Monday by the response to a small story we published about local landowner Mike Sandhu, who was quietly offering money to furloughed federal workers to help them pay their rent or mortgage. (Click here.) For the record, this was happening very low-key until I heard about it and publicized it. No one sought me out to tell this story.
And I took it for what it was — a guy trying to help his neighbors — because in this moment, that’s all it is. For all the rebuke directed toward him on our Facebook that he is just doing this to garner votes for some theoretical future version of Measure M, right now — in this moment — Tracy families are suffering and someone is offering some small relief.
Whatever you may think, I am neither a shill nor a rube. I just have the capacity to view this act on its own and take it for what it appears to be. Because while I may be skeptical in the practice of journalism, I am not cynical enough to think there is nefarious purpose behind every action. And I trust the people he wants to help. I believe in their ability to accept his help without feeling beholden. And I appreciate that someone wants to do something for them.
My advice to those who lobbed barbs on social media at a man giving his money to those in need is just to breathe for a second and accept the world for what it is right now, not what you fear it may become. If we all do that and not act cynically, the world has a chance of surprising you in a positive way.