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There are no words

It may be that one of the biggest dangers in today’s society is the uninformed electorate. 

I rarely wade into politics, and I don’t believe in telling people what to think or how to act. I believe in education, the ability to understand when I don’t have the information to derive a firm conclusion, and the impetus to ask questions to resolve those deficiencies. This week has shown me that as a population we are lacking in so many of those areas.

It’s not a stretch to draw comparisons with organised religion. Or cults. Any kind of institutionalisation, really. A message with no grounding in facts, no supporting evidence, and sometimes even downright implausible, is presented as fact. A particular action is encouraged with the promise of future salvation. Charismatic figures fall over themselves to position themselves at the head of the church. Fear and mistrust is fostered against outsiders to insulate the message from skeptical questions. 

I’m an idealist and I’m kind of introverted, I’m absorbed in my own little world for quite a lot of the time, and I absolutely allow for that. I’m sure people will tell me that my head’s up my ass. But I have a vision of education and civility and of open mindedness. I believe that as a democracy we should listen to people who disagree with us. We should ask questions of people smarter than ourselves. We should be able to hear the very best forms of each argument compete for our allegiance. We should not have to tolerate the self-appointed “best” candidates or representatives resort to mud slinging and fear-mongering in order to gain or retain power or validation.

I’m horrified that so many powers have been squandered. I’m disappointed that our politicians haven’t seen the need to substantiate their arguments with facts. I’m outraged that the media indulge the demands for entertainment instead of information. But mostly I’m heartbroken that so many of my fellow voters failed to recognise these things, do their own research, and then vote based on facts and reason. I’ve heard such things as “I didn’t think my vote would count” and “I don’t know why I chose the way I did”. I’ve also heard “I voted believing these lies” just the day after the election. If there was time available to recognise lies in the last 24 hours, there was time available before that.

In order for me to believe something, or take some course of action, I ask questions, the answers to which give me some rational basis for my beliefs or actions. And today, I have to ask – am I in the minority?

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