Where do you get your news? How much of it do you believe?
Have you ever taken a bribe? What was your rationale?
In the 11th Chapter of the Book of Isaiah we read that a new leader will shoot from a forgotten stump in a long-dormant field.
This phrase is used to describe him:
He won’t judge by appearances,
won’t decide on the basis of hearsay.
In Isaiah's day this described someone in a position of power who took bribes (as in "What do you have to show me as payment for my judgement?") and who listened to propaganda ("The polls tell me that this is my most favourable position.")
This leader, according to Isaiah, will be honest and straightforward and not motivated by their own interests: they will be the person for others.
Do we judge by what our eyes see? Do we decide by what our ears hear?
There are different kinds of bribes, other than the obvious. We make decisions all the time based on our own self-interest, instead of the concerns of others. We can be bribed by all the stuff we don’t have—to spend our lives getting it—instead of deciding to share with others.
Propaganda makes that worse. All the advertising at Christmas can give us a vague feeling of guilt when we have to settle for just giving our kids a few of the things on their list. Or it can make us feel bad for having to choose what we get people (or ourselves) for Christmas out of all the things we WANT. Or even blind us to the needs of others.
Or we may have ears to hear and eyes to see what others need, and put our energy into helping them find and secure their own well-being, and that of their families and community.