As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself forgetting seemingly basic things about government, science, history, literature (etc) that I learned years ago in school. Recently I read a book by Ben Carson, and was able to be in the audience when he gave a speech in my area. No matter what your view on Carson politically, he does have some common sense ideas to help our society – that I think anyone of any political or religious persuasion can appreciate. For example, one thing he emphasizes is the importance of a literate, educated, and thinking populace. Our system of government depends on it. Becoming an informed citizen not only makes you a wiser voter but can enhance all of your life’s experiences.
Yes, we can’t all become neurosurgeons like Carson. Yet it seems that too many people in modern American society are knowledgeable about pop culture, TV sitcoms, and sports, but not about more significant issues that matter. I’m not pointing the finger at others alone, as I was convicted by my own lack of knowledge in some areas. In Carson’s book One Nation, a chapter is entitled “Becoming Informed.” It includes a list of things that informed citizens should know, and the end of every chapter also has “action steps” or ways to apply the ideas in the chapter to your life. The mentioned chapter “Becoming Informed” has these action steps:
1. Challenge yourself to learn a new fact about American history each day for one month.
2. Resolve to replace TV and internet surfing with reading for a month.
3. Learn the names of your state and federal government representatives and research their voting records.
It is never too late to learn, or brush up on what you used to know in the past. In the speech I heard Carson give, he encouraged us to spend 1/2 hour a day for one year learning something new. That is 182 hours in a year. 182 hours may sound overwhelming or intimidating, but 1/2 hour a day is more manageable. Right? Imagine how knowledgeable you’d become by accumulating 182 hours of learning on one topic. Wow – you could be quite the expert. Go for it!
Some of us Christians bemoan the terrible lack of Bible and doctrinal knowledge among Christians today. (See this recent survey.) But I think this is a symptom of a broader problem in our society. Too many of us have become ignorant on many issues. We’ve become a lazy society in general, or just distracted and busy. We like to be entertained, and avoid being mentally stimulated or challenged.
Read a book…of substance. Take a class for personal enrichment. Subscribe to a magazine…no, not People magazine but something more educationally stimulating. Browse at your public library – you may find some books that really interest you.
In closing, I find that reading a biography can be an interesting way to learn. Reading a textbook on history or science is boring. But reading about the life of a particular historical or scientific person can be fascinating, and you will indirectly learn about history and science. Which may even stimulate your interest, and you may be surprised to find yourself looking through a textbook!