Apr 26, 2011

Using all that information

Courtesy of Scott Adams (Dilbert)

I’m always struck by the level of ignorance sometimes exhibited by the American public about the world around them – the activities of their government at home and abroad;  all this despite an almost ungodly amount of information of information out there. Granted, there is a lot of garbage to sift through at times but information is there, and it’s practically free.
I have a good friend from Zimbabwe who adamantly insists that access to information is not the magic elixir that brings about an informed citizenry, actively engaged in their community and politics. Rather it is the personal initiative for people to use the information, weigh the pros and cons of an issue, and make intelligent decisions. Sadly, many would rather be force-fed information by their favourite pundit(s) – liberal or conservative without doing on their own research or fact checking…and voilá, you have people who fervently believe Obama was snuck into the country by his Kenyan grandmother as an infant because she was determined to see him rise to the position of president. And no, these aren’t all grade 2 dropouts living in the swamps!  
So, as I look at this I can’t help but despair for my own people at times. I’m constantly beating the drum for more information about what goes on in our parliament, during negotiations with outside investors (tax concessions, labour relations, etc) and so forth. If we had all the information, what would we do with it? Would we indeed use it to make more deliberate decisions at the polling booth? Would we speak loudly about our support or opposition to various pieces of legislation? Or would we just shrug and go about our daily business leaving everything to the discretion of our elected officials. Oh, perish the thought. Our democracy is still tenuous; we cannot afford to leave things in the hands of the benevolent “father of the nation” and his sons.
We need to be smart! Ignorance is not bliss.

2 comments:

It's interesting, I was having a lovely conversation with a friend yesterday and she said to me; "see, there is something wrong with that ignorance is bliss saying, they forgot something. It should actually read - ignorance is bliss...but only for a while!" I couldn't agree more!!

Sunshine, your friend is absolutely right! Ignorance cannot be the contined excuse to do nothing, and when we have information we need to use it responsibly.

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