Give Back By Making Learning A Priority
Whether it’s politics or the climate, we can all do better by making it a point to reduce and, hopefully, remove our ignorance.
The beginning of each new year presents an opportunity for every single one of us to become a better person. We make resolutions (whether or not we fulfil them is another story) in the hopes that we can make something of ourselves, build a better version of ourselves, and make the world a better place. We make lists declaring that we’ll lose weight, pick up a new skill, be kinder to one another, etc. etc. etc.
I would like to propose a new idea for everyone reading this:
The one big way you can give back to society, to the world, this year is to start making Learning a priority. Why do I say this? As Lao Tzu said:
Living Is Easy With Our Eyes Closed
Nobody likes bad news. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us are picking our way across a minefield of bad news bombs on a daily basis because there’s only so much about the disheartening state of today’s world that our sanity can realistically take.
How many more charities and GoFundMe campaigns can we possibly shell out money to? Even if, deep down, we tell ourselves we can’t help everyone but we can help someone, the number of people displaced by wars, environmental disasters, and just a sheer lack of access to medical help is growing faster than any relief efforts can alleviate.
Living in our cocoon of relative security and peace, perhaps it’s easier to say, “It’s not my problem” or, “I’m too far removed to make a difference”.
Facts Do Not Cease To Exist Just Because They Are Ignored
We need to address our ignorance; the ignorance that results from letting the bright, shiny things like shopping, feel-good TV series, and mind-numbing social media videos distract us because we cannot bear to learn just what is making the world go to hell.
For example, the one simple thing we can all start learning today is how to recycle properly. A lot of information has been put out there, telling us the Dos and Do-Nots in recycling. “Do not throw food-contaminated plastic containers into the bins”; “Pizza boxes are not suitable for recycling”; “Pre-loved clothing goes to the Salvation Army, not the recycling bins” …
Yet, the number of people who still insist on chucking their normal trash into recycling bins, thinking they are doing something “good”, is staggering. A survey by Singapore’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources in April 2019 revealed that 67% of 2,003 households believed soiled paper food-packaging can be recycled and almost half thought that tissue paper can be placed in recycling bins.
Is it because they don’t care? Or, is it because they don’t know? Either way, if we start learning, we can finally start doing better. When you don’t learn, you don’t know. When you don’t know, you can afford not to care. When you don’t care, that’s when shit hits the proverbial fan and everything in this world starts to go wrong.
And no, you absolutely do not have the right to say, “It’s my right”. This quote by author Issac Asimov puts it very succinctly:
When we talk about how Learning can change behavior, we are talking about fixing Apathy. Learn so you can see if your actions and decisions are making the world a better or worse place for everyone. Learn more so you know how to make it better. And, continue learning so you know you are not making it worse!
This 2020, Learning isn’t just for the good of your employer’s business or for your personal development. Learning addresses ignorance and apathy, Learning is crucial for society to become better, Learning should be our way of giving back to the world. If you can’t fix everything with money or time, the least you can do is know better than to make things worse. I end with a quote by the Dalai Lama: