It’s important to stay abreast with politics and news, and so many people would agree. So why do so many of us seem so ignorant of what is going on in this country? It is one thing to have a personal philosophy from which you intentionally preclude yourself from politics and keeping up with them. Yet there are few people who actually turn away from politics on purpose and more who are ignorant of them for its own sake. I would like to put forth that unless you are actively choosing to not participate, you should dig deep into what is going on politically in your country, continent and world. Firstly, oftentimes politics is history happening. I could write multiple articles about how important history is and how much it should inform our world view. It is nearly impossible to make an informed choice about the future without considering the past. Say someone your exact size starts a fight with you. It then turns out that this person is a Kung Fu master and handily kicks your butt. Besides being surprisingly cool, it would also be a painful lesson. If that same person were to pick a fight with you a year later, it is much more likely, and much smarter, to walk away this time. If you had only considered the present without looking at your history, you would have gotten your butt kicked again. This is a trite example, but the point should be clear enough: In order to build a better future, you must understand the past. Which brings me to my main point: Politics is history happening. What happens in our country and the world right now is what we will be reading about in history books to come. Thus, it is important to be present in understanding what people believe, how they believe it and how they act on those beliefs. If politics can be understood, then so too can their outcomes. Secondly, understanding politics can help you understand your place in them. This is important for many reasons. First, it helps inform you both on the things you’d like to make a difference in and what things you can make a difference on. Take, for example, a man who, in his personal life, has begun to actively dislike the amount of taxes he pays and the amount of taxes he will pay in the future. If he is passionate about it, and is aware of the politics in his state, perhaps he may enter local government in an attempt to make a difference in taxes for his city. He begins to further understand the legislature and moves to state government, eventually making a difference in his state legislature. Perhaps, instead of going that far, he knows his local politician’s views and approaches him with his own to add impetus for tax reform. Either is more admirable than complaining or turning to social media, but both rely on knowledge of politics and politicians. Someone entirely ignorant of the system has naught to do but mope and/or regurgitate their troubles to others.
Which brings me to my final point: Know why you believe what you do. As America’s party lines begin to look more like canyons, I see more and more men and women choosing a side simply for the sake of choosing a side. I would assert that is a more sinister kind of ignorance that accepts the only input as wholly true. What I mean is this: Know why you are what you are politically. I have a friend that I not only disagree with on matters of politics but also deeply respect. I respect him because he has done his due diligence in researching both sides of the coin, understanding what each was proposing and why, understanding the history, and then, and only then, taking his own stance. I assert that no matter what the opinion, you should know why you hold it. It is far too easy to simply be told something and accept that as fact, but it is far better to come to your own opinions through research, even if they remain the same. Staying up to date with politics is more than just knowing who is in office; it is understanding who is in office, why, what they believe and how you fit into that picture. I believe that if we all know more about what we believe and why, we can be better individually and collectively.