The Need for Professionals and Experts to be Independent in Highly Polarized Times

The Polarized and Charged Times we live in and the Difficulty of Being Independent

It is a fact that we live in highly charged and polarized times. Reasoned debate has given way to hyper partisan rhetoric and illogical and plain irrational behavior from all stakeholders including politicians, businesspersons, and more importantly, the armies of professional experts and the media figures.

Indeed, the last category needs special mention as it is the job of experts and journalists to act as gatekeepers of democracy and to speak truth to power.

Instead, what we have is the media being compromised and the experts tending to look the other way when facts are distorted and plain lies are spread. We need to look not beyond the phenomenon of Fake News and the Post Truth paradigm wherein it is increasingly the case that blatant propaganda has replaced any sense of reason and logic.

Indeed, this is not only the case in the Developing World where anyway institutions are weak but also manifest in advanced Western democracies that have long prided themselves on being fiercely independent and protective of their core mission to safeguard democracy.

This sorry and sad state of affairs has resulted in drowning out any semblance of norm and rules and instead, what we have is an increasingly charged and polarized experts and professionals who have compromised and abandoned their allegiance to their core mission.

Remaining True to One’s Mission

The basic duty of Doctors is to uphold the Hippocratic Oath, the job of lawyers to follow the constitution, and the responsibility of media is to act as watchdogs of democracy. In addition, professionals and experts have an obligation to remain wedded to their underlying sense of right and wrong and not be swayed by extraneous inducements.

Of course, one can always argue that all this idealistic attitudes do not feed us since all of us have to earn a living. Further, when the system encourages experts and the media to put profit before principles, how can they be objective and unbiased in their approach? Indeed, it is alright to preach morals when one’s stomach is full.

Thus, it means that the prevailing economic and political and not to leave out, social system is geared towards profit maximization and hence, to expect anyone to follow the money is essentially foolish.

This is the reason why many professionals and experts often dismiss any allegations of bias by pointing to the nature of the system itself.

Distrust of Experts Leading to Trump and Brexit

Having said that, it is also the case that there is something known as taking this bias and prejudice too far since ultimately, the result is that the system itself is in danger of collapse and decay.

Indeed, the key argument in this article is that while one can indeed follow the money, there comes a point when there has to be some semblance of independence lest we end up Killing the Goose that Lays the Golden Eggs.

In other words, while the capitalist free market system operates in accordance to profit maximizing principles, it is also predicated around a basic commitment to survival and continuity rather than collapse and chaos.

Indeed, even democracies and the institutions that run them have a duty to uphold the constitution and bear allegiance to law and order.

This is the reason why there is a growing backlash against the partisan media and a general tendency to disbelieve the experts.

This can be seen in the events such as the Election of President Trump and the Brexit vote, both of which were seen as a pushback against the compromised establishment.

If we are to prevent more chaos and confusion, this is the time for all responsible stakeholders to act in accordance with their core mission.

The System Tends to Correct Itself

If you are an aspiring professional, you need to remember that maintaining independence is indeed tough and outright impossible.

On the other hand, there is an inbuilt logic in the operations of organizations wherein the system tends to correct and rebalance itself to prevent collapse.

Thus, our suggestion is that while you are in your job or profession, be aware that when the rebalancing happens, you can become the first casualty if you are caught off guard.

Having said that, experts and professionals often fail to recognize the warning signs even though they are trained to do so and hence, be on the lookout for straws in the wind that would indicate the direction in which the wind is blowing.

In other words, be alert to changing trends and then actualize your strategies and plans accordingly.

Apart from this, while maintaining independence in careers and organizations comes at a price, you need to factor in the costs of not doing so and the impacts it would have on your careers. Indeed, when the system corrects itself, you really do not want to be the one who is exposed when the tide turns.

Concluding Thoughts

Lastly, while we have steered clear of moralistic and bombastic arguments in this article, the importance of a conscience and conscientious sense of right and wrong is often the reason why some experts tend to be firm rather than be compromised.

As the legendary Hollywood movie, Wall Street portrays, when someone is staring at the abyss, it is usually one’s character that pulls him or her out of it.

To conclude, the present polarization and charged atmosphere leaves many experts and even well meaning professionals exhausted, and hence, our concluding suggestion for any of you in a dilemma is to follow your heart and the rest would fall in place.

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