Knowledge is available, if we’d only use it

I have been listening to podcasts about the war in Ukraine since Russia invaded back in February of 2022.

Not opinion podcasts. Not editorials. Not political pieces. Informational stuff. Sometimes downright boring, deep in the weeds, nerdy analysis from journalists and guys who work at foreign policy think-tanks.

These guests can tell you the names of generals on both sides. They can pronounce those names correctly and provide a brief bio.

They know the model numbers of drones, tanks, rifles, and ammunition. And they know who supplies them.

Some of them travel to cities on the front lines. They speak directly with the soldiers and families involved.

They are familiar with the latest casualty reports. They can comment on troop morale. And they know which territories are in jeopardy and which are secure.

The complexity of the situation is clear to them, because they have knowledge. They aren’t providing a lot of hot-takes.

Most are American or British, but their opinions on American and British involvement vary widely. The positions they take (agree or disagree) are not taken ignorantly.

Their analysis doesn’t lend itself to click-bait headlines. They have stared into the face of reality – and sometimes the faces of the people experiencing that reality – and moderated their views.

Our online discussions of public policy should start with this kind of knowledge. Any subsequent taking of sides should be informed. Information comes from people who have been there, who have seen things, who have done the reading, and who have devoted themselves to finding it.

These are boring people, I know. They want to get into the details and explore the nuance, not score political points. Their videos won’t be viral.

If we listen to enough people with information, we might learn what our own position should be. Or we might build a framework for a position that is strong enough to hold it up.

People of integrity have no other choice.