“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing
himself.” — Leo Tolstoy
Our political system is sitting at the intersection of anger and ignorance. After the election a lot of discussion focused on the echo chamber –the like-minded reinforcement of one’s ideas. While this discussion is helpful, it overlooks an integral point many Americans, besides being ignorant about politics, are ignorant about their fellow Americans and the world outside their own. Blame it on the Internet, the advent of social media, fake news, talk-radio, millennials, politicians, or geography, but the truth is many Americans know little about their fellow citizens. While ignorance about fellow citizens might seem innocuous and excusable, it’s anything but. Unlike science, where ignorance can drive healthy speculation, personal relationships suffer under ignorance. Knowing little about other people means you likely know little about issues that concern them. In a democracy designed of, by, and for the people this ignorance is problematic. As Thomas Jefferson noted, a healthy democracy requires an informed citizenry. And since we’ve gone to great lengths to define the citizenry, we must now refine the concept of being informed. Being informed requires more than knowledge of the functions of government and social issues, it means knowing about our citizenry.