As I stand among the collapsing monuments in the post-Brexit wreckage, I am acutely aware of how uninformed I was when I voted.
I understood the bare-bones of the issues, that free movement of goods, services and people will be damaged, that the EU will retaliate to make an example out of Britain. But I was mostly informed by my more knowledgeable peers and by the intense xenophobia of the Leave campaign. Even if I knew nothing about the EU, I would have voted Remain simply because I could never stand on the side of racism.
It was only immediately after the results that I began to devour article after article of information on this topic. I began to scrape the surface of the massive iceberg that is the EU. I learned about Article 50. I learned about EU trade policies, about which trade agreements would go and which ones would stay, how long it takes to negotiate trade agreements with the EU (Canada and Norway are the precedence). I learned about the British political parties. I learned about the only somewhat-precedent we have of how to leave the EU, namely Greenland.
I shouldn’t have done that, after the vote. I contributed to the upward swing of Google searches on the EU and Brexit, post-Brexit. I am part of what most of my friends shake their heads and laugh in despair at: the ignorant.
Before the vote, if a Brexiteer came up to me, found out I was voting Remain and demanded to know why, the only trick I could pull out of the hat is that he/she is a racist. That’s why. That’s it. Otherwise, I was as about ignorant as they were about the EU.
What an embarrassment.
With the realization of the massive implications this referendum has on my generation and the generations after me, I am damned if I vote uninformed ever again.
This means that every day I will read the BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, the New York Times, the Economist, the Atlantic, Vox, etc. I will listen to NPR and other news podcasts. I will start with these and slowly gain a grasp on their biases and political leanings. Having a kaleidoscope of sources to draw my information from is one of the key components of being informed (Finally, I learned something from 6 years of higher education! 60K well-spent…). So I will also work on expanding my sources as I grow.
One of the top tips for being happy is to not read the news. The news overwhelmingly tips in favour of terrible crimes, political nightmares, and all things negative. Rarely are there stories about caring nurses who saved the life of an orphan, or some brave man rescuing a dog from drowning, or something inspiring. Those I generally get from popular websites like Buzzfeed.
Despite the negativity, headaches and loss of faith one receives from reading the news, I don’t want to make the conscious choice of disengaging with the affairs of my world. The decisions made by the older generations will affect me and us long after they are gone. We will inherit their pollution. We will inherit their greed. We will inherit their corruption. We will inherit their wars. And I want to follow along as it happens.
I don’t presume I’ll be able to solve any of these problems. I am well-aware of my limited capacity as one human being to change things in the bigger world. But, I want to, at least, know what’s going on. I want to be able to explain to my children what was happening in my world and why their world is the way it is. I don’t want blessed ignorance, because I have seen first-hand how passionate and intolerant ignorant people can become.
The less you know, the more certain you are of what you know.
Besides, there are uplifting stories, especially in the fields of science and technology. There is dazzling progress taking place. The world is too fascinating and the things that we do are too intriguing for me to remain in my dark little cave, reassuring myself that everything is fine.
For this space, my new challenge may manifest itself into weekly summaries of the stories that came to past, into monthly favourites of the best articles, or just into sporadic, unwarranted posts about something hopefully inspirational (most likely not though. I find that I am at my best when tackling an issue that plagues us rather than inspires us). Please follow “The World in Review” category for future content.
I hope you’ll ride along.