What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of Liberty & Learning, each leaning on each on the other for their mutual and surest support? – James Madison
Information leads to freedom. It has always been so.
When North Korean Concentration camp prisoner, Shin Dong-hyuk, decided to try and escape, it was not because he knew what freedom would give him by way of opportunity. He decided to escape when he heard that he could eat chicken on the other side. He had never seen a McDonald’s or even a carpeted floor. He was born a slave with no expectation of anything more. His friend had planted a seed of knowledge that outside the slave camp, you could eat whatever you wanted. Shin needed no more enlightenment than the knowledge he could eat what he wanted if he could escape the oppression he was under. More illumination came later, and with that, he informed others to the situation in North Korea.
When the Founding Fathers were fighting for a new America, they knew that they needed to inform the population of the reasons for resistance against tyranny. They knew, that like Shin in his enslavement, that people become comfortable enough with their lives to endure whatever condition they live under if they are not informed of the alternatives. The Founding Fathers published their thoughts, their self education, and spread it as widely as was possible at the time, giving us such great works as the Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, The Federalist Papers, Ben Franklin’s General Magazine and Historical Chronicle, and Jonathan Edwards Freedom of the Will. They didn’t have the much by way of media technology, and the progress was slow.
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson
The largest complaint against the media to date has been their failure to inform the public. With the triple whammy of the IRS targeting conservative groups, the Benghazi hearings, and the DOJ tapping the phones of the AP, can there be any wonder that Gallup found distrust for the media at a new high in September 2012–that was just a few weeks before a presidential election. The lack of coverage of the Gosnell trial, the reluctance to cover Benghazi, coupled with massive failures on really big stories, has driven information seekers from the television (nearly half of the employees at my work have no cable or television) and newspaper to the Internet and blogs. The information is out there…
“Genius without education is like silver in the mine.” Benjamin Franklin
We are in a new age of enlightenment. We have not the same excuses of ages past. Today information flows freely on the Internet and can be accessed by any person in America. The wisdom of ages is easily accessible at the hubs that include: any public library, bookstore, college campus or McDonalds.
“Trust but verify,” Ronald Regan.
Self-education puts the burden of responsibility rightly on the person learning. There is not a topic of discussion that a person cannot investigate on the Internet, easily accessing both the pro and con of the argument for as long as the issue has been debated and recorded.
“No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.” – Samuel Adams
If ignorance exists in our country, it is wholly the responsibility of the ignorant person and not any other person or institution. While misinformation may be easily spread–in institutions, by friends, family and the social elite–it is only complacency and pure laziness that allows it to continue and go unchallenged. We must, as a people, recreate the environment where a man (or woman) is responsible for his own situation, left to improve it on his own, with all the liberty and enlightenment available to him to do exactly that.
“A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins” – Benjamin Franklin
The only way to create this environment is to start in your own home. Utilize the resources you have to spread enlightenment, first to yourself, then to your family and lastly to those around you. Start at the beginning, follow each rabbit trail of information you can. If you do, you will find that there is no end to the learning.