Why is it important to read/listen/watch the news and stay informed?

Posted on November 13, 2018 · Posted in Blog, General, Personal

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You are, of course, free to live in any way you want. And if you decide that your ideal is to live like a hermit, without any contact with others, without voting in elections, without voicing any opinion on anything happening in the outside world, then obviously keeping up with whatever happens in the outside world would be totally unimportant to you, at least while the outside world and what happens in it doesn’t interfere with your chosen exile from it.

However, if instead you chose to participate in society, at least to the extent of accepting that the choices of others will to some degree affect you, it might be a good idea to know what is happening in the world you live in. Who knows? You might suddenly find yourself living in a country where a new government wants to outlaw the books you like, the sexual practices you engage in, the movies you watch or the products you eat or drink. Your country might be invaded by an aggressive neighbor you’ve never heard of, or the beach where your house is may be in danger of being flooded.

Most probably none of that would have come as a total surprise if you had followed the news. And it’s even possible that if you had done so, and discussed what was happening with others, you might have been able to influence events. And that, certainly, is one possible answer to why it can be important to stay informed.

Another answer, which you may or may not agree with, is that humans are curious beings. We want to know things. And our curiosity has led us to try finding the answers to every question we have been able to think of, from the simplest ones (“How can we stay warm when it’s cold in winter?”) to the most complex (“How did the universe we live in come to exist?”). Now you may totally lack curiosity, and in that case there would be no reason for you to want to know anything at all. But if you are curious, finding things out is the only way to satisfy your curiosity, and keeping up with the news is the only way to satisfy your curiosity about what other humans believe, think and do. To me, that’s an as compelling reason as the fact that what others believe, think and do will also affect me, and if I ignore even learning about it, I also implicitly accept that I will have no say in what they decide about the things I feel strongly about.

In addition, there’s the phrase “knowledge is power”. The more you know, the more power you have over your own life.

And finally, a democracy thrives when the public is well informed, and dies when it isn’t. There are many people who seek power by manipulating other people’s fears and prejudices. When that happens, the targets of those prejudices tend to suffer, the bad guys gain more power and democracy withers away.

The only way to combat this is to learn things, and to think critically about what you hear. John-Henri Holmberg

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