Let’s start with common ground: we are all ignorant, we’re just ignorant about different things. The other side of that coin is that we all know stuff, and while a lot of the stuff we know is common knowledge, each of us has some knowledge no one else around has.
That’s one of the great benefits of diverse gatherings of people: when we get together we can call on our broad collective knowledge to cover for our specific individual ignorance. This applies equally to families, towns, states, and nations.
This is one of the reasons I glory in diversity, and support it whenever and wherever I can.
But that does not mean that I give up my responsibility to think for myself, and to evaluate as best I can what I hear, what I see, and what makes sense.
Essential to this evaluation process is the ability to think clearly, and to have access to accurate information.
Both of these essentials have been under attack for decades, and the results are clear to anyone who looks.
Schools, particularly primary schools, no longer teach analytical thinking (essential to evaluating information), nor vast parts of the history of this country (essential to a sense of perspective). Schools no longer challenge students to form, and defend, their own viewpoints. There is little or no discussion of ideas and principles, and none of everyday ethics or of the commons.
Accurate information is almost a thing of the past – most popular media is owned by a few large corporations, and these corporations use their media to present only those viewpoints that support their ideologies.
The traditional protections for public access to the airwaves have been dismantled. The fairness doctrine not only is gone, it is unknown to the majority of listeners and viewers.
Case law now supports the Fox News Network’s position that corporations using the public airwaves are under no obligation to tell the truth, even in “news” programs. Media owners can lie in their programs, even when they know they are lying, and it is legally condoned activity, say the courts.
Reasonable entry of individuals into the public discourse has been, like political dissent, limited to “free speech zones”. Even the Internet, an unprecedented opportunity to open discussion to “the masses”, is under attack, with the powerful demanding control of who speaks, and when, and how.
The founders of the United States of America knew, and said, that our democracy depends upon an informed public. We are uninformed, and misinformed, and we are therefore losing our democracy.
What do you think?