This I Believe

Lauren - Rockford, Michigan
Entered on January 23, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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Ignorance can be much more damaging to our country than a weapon of mass destruction. It can be more harmful than terrorists, slowly attacking our country from the inside, eating away at our basis for free representative government, the ideals of a well-educated, intelligent, understanding, open-minded America. The threat is more subtle, but it can be more serious. Internal problems are harder to fight than external ones. We have to fight back. We can’t just sit still and let ignorance overcome us. The best defense against ignorance is education. This doesn’t just mean high school and college. Education is so much more than formal instruction. It doesn’t matter whether you get an A in Calculus or whether you’re in the top ten in your class. True life education comes from experience, hard work, observation, understanding, and human interaction.

People should make an effort to understand other cultures and other ways of life. Understanding each other is the first step to living peacefully on such a diverse planet. We all have preconceived notions, or unconscious stereotypes, about other people. We can’t live and be connected to the world without picking some of these up. The key is to be able to know ourselves and the world around us well enough to be able to recognize our own stereotypical thoughts and disregard them. One of the signs of a well-educated person is open-mindedness.

A well-educated citizen is a well-educated voter. It’s important to be up to date on the candidates and the issues. America was built off the idea of a “government by the people”. If the people are ignorant, what does that say about America? Many times, people base their opinion on a lack of knowledge. I’ve never been more disappointed in human intelligence than when I’ve heard people talking about voting for the “best looking candidate” rather than the most qualified candidate. Ignorance and apathy go hand in hand when it comes to voting. If people don’t understand the importance of participating in the government and that everyone can make a difference, they won’t care enough to even go to the polls.

A truly educated person is one who continues to learn throughout their whole life. Being well-educated is being open to other ways of thinking and knowing that you always have more to learn. Ignorance is a destructive disease; we have to work to fight it in ourselves and in others. This I believe, the best weapon against ignorance is education.