Why You Should Be Informed (And 8 Tips to Become Informed)

We live in the age of information.
Between 1750 and 1900, the total expanse of human knowledge had doubled .  At that time of pre-technology human history, it took 150 years.  Today, the growth of knowledge is occurring some 100 times faster.  It is said that the entire sum of all known information, i.e., human knowledge, doubles every 1.5 years.  By 2020 it is estimated that it will be doubling approximately every month and a half (72 days).  Think about that…

This Information Age is one in which the average illiterate person, one unable to read or write– but who can understand language and watch videos, can easily learn more about science than those towering figures of centuries past like Louis Pascal and Isaac Newton.  Another example: a 5 year old child holding a smart phone possess more technology than was required to send a man to the moon only 40+ years ago.
In a recent study by the University of California, San Diego, researchers found that we swim in a boundless sea of information.  All total, Americans consume 3.6 zettabytes of information collectively every day– that’s 34 gigabytes per person, every day– be it through TV, radio, the Internet/computer, reading, and other digital devices.  Ironically, with this enormous access to literally UNLIMITED data, one in which we can learn everything about everything, the average American is not very informed about the world in which we live.
Note that I’m not saying that Americans don’t know very much– because we do.  It’s just that the “average American” is simply uninformed to a large degree about the ultimate things that matter and that affect his or her life.  Whether this ignorance is apathy, indifference, or something else– I do not know, but it’s hard to believe such a high level of societal ignorance exists in this world awash in an infinity of information.
For example, while most people have instant recall on trivia like their friend’s speed dial numbers, their favorite TV shows’ times, nuances of their favorite wines, beers, coffee beans or marijuana strains (I live in California), most live without a working knowledge and, sometimes, only a vague familiarity about civics, economics, and politics– not to mention spiritual truth.
You might say– “Who really cares?”  It may seem that not knowing virtually ANYTHING about the stock market, the strength of US currency, trade deficits, political processes, the separation of power, representation and taxation, and things like that “makes no difference.”  Some think that ignorance is bliss because, they reason, we can’t do anything about it anyway.
My response is many-fold, but if I were to reply, I would use these three brief answers.
1. Christians shouldn’t be ignorant about the world, because Jesus wasn’t.  For Christians, we should keep in mind that (of all people) Jesus himself had a working knowledge of those things, and he informed His disciples about them.  He spoke more about money than he did “heaven!”  In the gospels, Jesus shows familiarity with the Roman Empire and its government, the geo-political set up present in Judea and greater Jerusalem, and a deep familiarity with law, justice, economics, and even taxes.  If Jesus did that– and frequently taught his own disciples on issues of those sorts, it can be argued that we must do the same as Christians.
2. Being Uninformed Leaves You Open to Exploitation and Victimization.  Second, ignorance of the primary currents of our culture leaves us vulnerable to those things. Being unaware and disengaged of what is happening in any given area (say, government spending) is a sure-fire way for those who have authority in those areas to act with impunity.  An informed populace means that people can rise up and protest, shape public opinion (through free speech such as this blog), communicate with their senator, hold rallies, organize political movements, or a host of other things as a response.  If we are ignorant, we don’t respond because we are, well, ignorant.  We should keep in mind that an INFORMED MINORITY is always more powerful than an apathetic majority.  For example, in the former Soviet Union, only 24% of citizens were Communist, but they controlled approximately 1/5 of the world.  Informed minorities are always stronger than apathetic majorities.  What is funny is that some people say “I can’t do anything, so why bother?” I say that we can do more than we think– but even if that were true… even if we were powerless subjects being acted upon by the powers that be, at least by understanding what is going on we can play defense and perhaps be better off than if we didn’t.  Let me give an example.  If I were to be an 85 year old man and have to face a 23 year old Mike Tyson in a boxing ring– I may not be capable of successfully fighting him, but the fact that I couldn’t win by playing offense doesn’t mean that I would lower my arms and take a merciless beating… instead, I would AT LEAST put up my gloves and pull in my elbows and try to protect my vital organs and my face, head, and chest.  Then, even if I didn’t WIN, I might at least survive.  Similarly, when we don’t know much about our world, we are defenseless because of our indifference.
3. Be Informed Because You Are Greatly Affected By These Forces, Simply Because You Are a Living Citizen. Third, we need to be informed about the world– because we are citizens in that world.  It is where we live.  It is where we exist.  The condition of the world affects our lives.  The things happening in our world affect our families.  These things affect our children’s children and loved ones, friends, relatives, acquaintances and neighbors. And when I say that these things (civics, politics, economics, and so on) affect our lives– I mean that decisions made by people having authority who are not held accountable by informed, thoughtful, engaged people, affect you nearly every moment of the day.  So while we live in an apathetic state being brainwashed by time-wasting novelties, decisions and actions in the stock market, bond market, futures, congress, judiciary, by the President, governmental agencies creating regulations, and on and on and on– while those things are going on, together they affect EVERYTHING in life: gas taxes raise your gas prices, Standard & Poor’s downgrade makes loans for a car or school harder to get or to pay, new regulations on coal means higher prices for air conditioning at home, OPEC trade imbalances means it costs more for trucks to bring products to your favorite stores, raising the price of Mac & Cheese– do you see what I mean? All of that to say that being uninformed doesn’t make you invulnerable to these bad things– it makes you and your family and everyone you care about MORE vulnerable and, yes, victims.
Being Uninformed Always Makes Us Gullible. 
The irony of being a victim, however, is that those who are both victims and who are uniformed OFTEN (almost always) blame the wrong people for their problems.  Instead of kicking themselves for being willfully ignorant– and instead of holding the right people accountable— those who actually caused the problems– their ignorance typically makes them unable to discern what actually happened.  When this happens, we become gullible.  That gullibility makes us vulnerable to slick slogans and simplistic explanations, where we are more likely to believe someone because they speak with passion or eloquence, and we begin to believe certain things because the person is “speaking loudly” or pounding his or her fist.  Gullible people are defenseless to these things because they are ignorant– and since they don’t know the facts, they fall for rhetoric and emotion instead of believing things because they are actually TRUE.  Does that make sense?
The Challenge
We all have areas of ignorance– I know I do.  But the key is to do something rather than nothing.  My advice to those who feel unable to discern what is happening in our world and who are at a loss to understand what to do is this:

  1. Read God’s Word and ask for Wisdom (James 1:5)
  2. Reserve judgment, avoid giving opinions, and stop yourself from assigning blame until you know what you’re talking about
  3. Begin to be informed by trustworthy sources (people and institutions who, by having a long track record of being fair and informed, have earned and kept your trust
  4. Build your knowledge solidly in a number of areas, as they are all interconnected (the areas all influence one another)
  5. Check your thinking against others of like-mind and who disagree, then reassess your thinking
  6. Be sure to evaluate ideas based on their underlying assumptions (the basic commitments and beliefs that led them to reason a certain way and come to certain conclusions), then evaluate whether your assumptions about things are correct or need adjusting
  7. Test your ideas with both scripture (does it agree with God’s Word/truth) and reality itself (if it doesn’t work in real life, there’s something wrong with what you’re thinking)
  8. Be slow to come to final conclusions prematurely.  But when you know that you have finally discovered what is true, become unshakeable in your convictions.

Cardoza on Civics: Understanding What's Going On In America and Why

Understanding the Relationship Between Politics and Economics
Politics: To have a society, people must live together.  When people live together in relative harmony, it is called a “civilization.”  For civilization to exist, it must be civil (or you have barbarism).  Civility is based on mutual understandings and boundaries of well-being (“civil order”).  “Order” (Civil Society) becomes a reality when compulsory expectations are expected OF everyone and enforced ON everyone—and this is what we call “Law.”  The need for “Law” is what creates Politics.  Politics is designed to establish order and preserve justice and equity.  Government is the collective body or bodies that oversee the political system to ensure civilization.
Economics: When people live together in society, they can either live in a meager, primitive, and simple existence (usually agrarian or nomadic societies) OR they can seek to live in a more sophisticated society where the standard of living (options, choices, comforts, entertainment, etc.) is higher and comfort is increased.  **Because increased comfort and a higher standard of living creates greater civil stability and well-being, governments seek to enable this higher standard of living in order to avoid chaos and the breakdown of civilization and government (anarchy).  A higher standard of living is accomplished to a large degree through economics. Economics, therefore, is the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services that creates the opportunity for a higher standard of living just described.  IN THESE WAYS, politics and economics are intertwined.  And it is government that regulates economics THROUGH politics to help ensure people’s well-being and a higher standard of living in order to build the best society possible.
Understanding Economic Theory and Political Theory
So for government to exist, politics and economics must exist.  But there’s not only “one way” to think about politics and economics.  So different “political theories” (often called Political Science) and different “economic theories” exist.  And it happens that, usually, certain political theories’ goals are best accomplished by corresponding economic theories because they are built on common ideals or goals.
That’s why—as a rule—that Representative Democracy (a “Republic” like the US) generally uses Free-Market Capitalism as its economic theory (since it values entrepreneurism as the way to help raise people’s standard of living). Capitalism places responsibility on individuals, as does Democracy. That’s because Democratic Government and Capitalism believes the individual should be motivated to take personal responsibility for their own well-being and that of their family and fellow man.  And when each person with the ability does the same, that creates a surplus—which meets the needs of those who genuinely cannot help themselves.  But those who refuse to work and do not take responsibility—even though they are able—are allowed to do without.  Only those who genuinely need the help are able to get it in this type of society.
Socialism, on the other hand, de-emphasizes the responsibility of individuals and places that responsibility for the welfare of the individual on the government to produce that higher standard of living for the people.  In this way, the government must provide money for the resources needed by the people.   It does so by compelling people to provide the government with the money to do this—and government receives money through taxes.  Those taxes are paid to the central government in order to hire people to maintain and oversee programs that provide for people.  And in a Socialist government, as Karl Marx said, each person gives “according to his ability” and each person receives “according to his need.”  WHAT THAT MEANS is that those “with more” are compelled to give more to people who need more—so that those who do not have all they want or need will have it.
The Point?
In summary, Capitalists and Marxists disagree on HOW to maintain a civilization and provide for its peoples’ standard of living.  And Democratic-Republic Governments disagree with Socialists on the way to build that society—through compelling people to give to the government so everyone will have ‘about the same’ OR through expecting people to take responsibility (if they are able) for themselves… or to do without.
That is why Democracy-Capitalism is about personal responsibility, low taxes, and small government.  And that’s why Socialism-Marxism is about government responsibility, bigger government, and higher taxes.  They are simply two ways of doing things.

The Choice
These completely opposite approaches on the role of government, politics and economics are what is causing the radical disagreements in the United States right now.   The question is “Do we create a ‘Nanny State’ where people are taken care of by the government, even though corruption, waste, and excessively spending tax-payers’ money occurs OR do we create a ‘Responsibility State’ where people who are able to do so are required to take care of themselves and the fruit of their labor takes care of those who cannot take care of themselves until they are able or indefinitely?”

The Fundamental Problem
The major problem that exists in our nation’s politics today is that Democrats are being driven by the extreme left wing of their political party—and that party (led by the U.S. President) is driven by hard left ideologues who are more SOCIALIST as I have described above.  Prior to this time in history, Democrats and Republicans have disagreed “to a degree” but could compromise BECAUSE THEIR POSITIONS WERE RELATIVELY CLOSE TOGETHER.  Now, because “Progressives” in the Democratic Party are more Socialist in their perspective, we have a culture war—and the MEANS and the ENDS are so radically opposite that there is no middle ground. 
That is why this is such a fierce battle.  And this entire discussion explains why I feel so deeply about these issues: Because the American way of life is being threatened by changes in these political and economic theories.  And if America practices the political and economic theories of Socialism and Marxism, the outcome will be what it has been in EVERY other such civilization: decline and death of those civilizations.
Note: While America has flourished into the greatest civilization the world has ever known in only 200 years under Capitalism and a Republic, since Marxism/Socialism was introduced in the 1800s, no genuinely Marxist economy in history has survived more than 70 years (Soviet Union).  But today’s Progressives want to ‘progress’ past Capitalism to a doomed system.  There is on earth NO NATION under even a Socialist approach whose society is superior to the United States—and that is why I am so forceful in my opposition to it—because I do not want my children and their children to live in a society in decline or hardship after my sacrifice and the sacrifice of all Americans in the last 200 years.