“Most people gaze neither into the past
nor the future
; they explore neither truth
. They gaze at the television
.” – Radiohead
Life is not a spectator sport; it demands that one reaches out and explores with curiosity, not to be out of touch with the outside world. Sometimes, if we are bombarded by an inquisitive child’s endless questions, we scoff at their continuous curiosity. Yet children exude the natural human quality of inquisitiveness, a quality that hasn’t yet been stamped out by mass media and formal education. I urge everyone who reads this to tap back into that natural, human curiosity that may have ended with your childhood. By becoming more aware of your surroundings, you can perhaps see a higher purpose and enrich the quality of both your own life and the community’s.
Our society might be more unaware than you thought. Every time voting season rolls around, the mass ignorance of the American people stifles the air. Less than half of the eligible voters that you pass on the street didn’t vote in the last election. I’m sure we all have an opinion about the way that we should be governed, so why would anyone deface his or her rights to self-government by choosing not to speak? We are constantly bombarded in the media by facts and figures showing that the rest of the industrialized world is outperforming America. I believe that the most shameful statistic of all is our pitiful voter turnout. According to the Alliance for Better Campaigns, “As more and more citizens across the globegain the right to vote, fewer and fewer Americans are exercising it.” Here, in the cradle of modern democracy, where free and open elections are held annually, how can half the electorate decide to stay silent when the time comes for them to speak? No excuse can be justified for ignoring the basic tenets of democracy. The ignorance of the fundamental duty to vote is slowly ravaging our self-democracy like cancer quietly devouring a human body.
If we know where the light switch is, why do we insist on walking around in a dark room? Every day, mostly unwillingly, we choose to limit our knowledge of our situation for a hollow, ignorant happiness. Disillusioned by the local political scene? Just tune out, it doesn’t really affect you. Caught in a messy situation? Just feign ignorance, it works every time. Sometimes it amazes me how we can choose to deny ourselves the pursuit of knowledge, the very pursuit that makes us who we are. Our society attempts to justify the choice to ignore by claiming that they don’t need to know everything in order to be happy. If you choose to be ignorant of a situation, then any happiness you gain would be hollow.
Learning enriches the human spirit. Knowledge is the basic currency in which we measure our existence. To squander this gift is to deny one’s humanity. If your happiness depends on your lack of knowledge, then I must tell you that there are so many other beautiful things on this earth to be happy about than your own ignorance. So, the next time you say, “Don’t tell me, I’d rather not know,” think about the implications of your statement. Voting is just the first step in the process. Instead of sitting in front of the television and stifling our curiosity, we must take an active roll in the understanding of our world. I implore you, for your own sake, to turn on the light, rather than try to live in the dark.