Saturday, January 31, 2004

Ignorance is Bliss


I have a cousin who is a very successful lawyer, who makes a point of avoiding the news. He doesn't read a newspaper, doesn't watch TV, and doesn't surf the Internet for news related content. He works hard, and devotes his down time to the arts, good food and wine, and his "significant other". He states that he used to read the news, but that the best it would do is get him upset or angry, but that nothing ever really changed. Being informed, for him, was a net detriment. It's a bit like the rhetorical question I posed a couple of days ago - which is more important to you, your employer or the federal government? He chose his employer, and pretty much ignores the government. Hey - but he's a great host, and he really can pick a bottle of wine.

In this country, it seems fashionable to be able to assert a strong opinion even if it is at its core an uninformed opinion. When it comes to people who are motivated about an issue, even if it is an issue they don't understand, you'll typically get a strongly partisan expression of support for one side or the other - and may the deity of your choice bless you if you dare suggest that the position is incorrect. If you're lucky, you might get the regurgitation of arguments heard elsewhere, wielded as a talismanic defense against difficult facts.

My cousin is happy; yet so many politicized Americans seem angry. I don't know that I will ever advocate an uninformed electorate (arguably, despite the availability of information, we already have one), but perhaps those who don't have the time or don't want to take the bother to learn the facts and to think for themselves should draw a lesson from my cousin's deliberately uninformed happiness.

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