Ignorance is not bliss, be informed

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Ignorance is not bliss, be informed

By Kaanan Raja

Ferguson, ISIS, Ebola and Ukraine protests — do these ring a bell? Hopefully they do because these events have been four of the largest topics scrawled across news headlines this past year. 

Yet, I’m still constantly disappointed when I bring up current news in conversations only to receive blank stares and befuddled expressions to match.

It seems to me as if the younger demographic, including college students, are choosing to become less and less informed on important topics that sweep our nation.

This is extremely dangerous.

When we are ignorant about important current events and social justice issues, we aren’t able to critically evaluate the world. In order to impact the world even in the slightest, we must first be engaged in it.

Free copies of The New York Times, USA Today and the Chicago Tribune are available at many locations on our campus. Therefore, it’s probably safe to say it is our own fault that many of us choose to stay in the dark about several topics that affect our nation, especially when so many reliable sources surround us each day.

Many of the concerns that surround not being informed are definitely understandable. As college students, not only are we always extremely busy, but many of us are not that interested in events that go past our state’s borders. 

We tend to think that much of what happens on the other side of the globe or in different states and towns doesn’t affect us directly and thus, is no concern for us.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Events such as Ferguson explore racial issues while Ukraine protests involve political repression. Both events involve larger social justice issues that many across the world can empathize with and understand.

Events that are happening on the other side of the world, as well as things happening in our own backyard, both impact the world we live in today and what kind of future world we could live in.

Therefore, it is imperative that we — young adults who have the capability to shape this nation’s future — make ourselves aware of these national and global issues. 

The recent social issue in Ferguson proves how we have the capability to take an educated stance about larger injustices after looking at plenty of sources about the situation. The Ferguson case also showed the difference between what it means to be informed and misinformed.

While I have heard peers say some incredibly vapid and uneducated statements about this case, I’ve also heard some incredibly thought-provoking statements regarding the riots and aftermath. In fact, many of my own peers have marched in protests and attended rallies in their own communities following the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson over the shooting of Michael Brown. 

Before attending, I know many of my peers consistently checked the news or read the front page stories covering the case each day. Before they joined their community and made the difference they wished to see in the world, they became informed of the situation first.

I dare us all to do the same. 

However, this does not mean looking at what’s trending on Facebook or Twitter as your daily news source. As these are social media platforms, many times information spread can either be warped by public opinions without any facts to back it up — it gives us speedy information, but not always accurate information. 

Instead, there are a variety of quick resources to take advantage of: BBC News, Flipboard, theSkimm and more all have apps that can easily be downloaded if you have time to spare on a bus ride or break between classes. There are websites that scatter all across the Internet from every news source imaginable. Even having a conversation with an enthusiastic professor is another way to think critically and still receive information about what’s going on in the world and why it matters.

As college students at the University, it is our civic duty to have a certain level of global awareness. While equations and biological facts are important to flood my mind with, I consider myself a well-rounded student only when I inform myself of what is taking place in the world.

So tune into a trusted news source on TV, pick up a newspaper or click away to NPR: Be informed, because ignorance is not an option.

Kaanan is a freshman in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].