Friday, May 2, 2008

I Am Still Learning

A while back, National Public Radio aired a story discussing how difficult it could be at times for journalists to get people to tell their full names. As a journalist myself, I have come across the same problem. I cannot help but wonder why people are so afraid to let people know what they believe. I find it interesting how people always want to speak their views, but if someone wants to right them down on record, people all of a sudden retreat into self defense mode. Should people not take care to speak only what they would be willing to have someone write down?
I have found that many people are so unsure of their own beliefs that they are terrified that someone else might challenge them. Clearly, this is not a beneficial attitude. I, myself, have been hesitant to speak about my political and social opinions, not because I fear someone will reprimand me, but because I do not wish to deliver false or faulty information to those who hear.
This past weekend, two people I know spoke ignorantly, and I must say that this perturbs me more than most other actions. I do not mention these two individuals to call them into rebuke but rather to use them as examples of what I have witnessed over my lifetime. First of all, the one girl, about my own age, began to speak about the Invisible Children fund, which gives money to assist the children in Uganda who are often forced into the military. When she was explaining the topic to some of her relatives, she said the money went to children in Uwanda. Having heard of this organization before, I quickly listened to see if I had heard correctly. Again she repeated, the children were from Uwanda. I realized that she was quite mistaken, as she combined the countries of Uganda and Rwanda, the country directly south of Uganda, into one word. Later on, the country was straightened out, and the girl understood her mistake. In the same day, I was talking politics with someone, and he said he could not support Barack Obama because of Reverend Wright. As most people had, I had also heard this often over the past month, but what suprised me was what he said next. He said he did not like Rev. Wright because he said, "God 'f ' America." I quickly corrected him, telling him that, in fact, Rev. Wright said, "God d**** America." In no way was I attempting to defend Rev. Wright for his comments or Obama for his spiritual affiliation, yet I could not bear to hear someone so distort the facts.
Lest one believe these two individuals to be uncommon examples, I want to clarify that they are two intelligent individuals. Although the first girl is not the most intellectual person I have met, she does attend a fairly elite private school and excels in the environment. The man most likely is one of the most intellectual men I have ever met. He is likely more informed on most every topic than most legislators are, and his only downfall is his extremely conservative bias. Still, what I have seen is that overall, most people make many mistakes when they are relaying information. The only action I can take is to inform others when they speak wrongly and encourage everyone to research and become extremely familiar with your information before publicizing it. On everything you say, you should be willing to put your name. I have had my share of downfalls. Speaking uninformed is one I have committed many times. The best we can do is learn. Maybe all of our mottoes should be this quote by Michelangelo, "Ancora imparo." "I am still learning."

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