I now hold a Ph.D. in Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s VMA performance. I know about Miley’s skin-colored outfit, foam finger, and teddy bears. I’ve seen Tweets, Facebook posts, analyses, comments, and comments of analyses, along with a million articles about Miley, Robin, blah blah blah…… and guess what? I never even saw the show. And, still, I was soooo swept away with it all…………
………that I forgot about Syria.
I didn’t know about Syria.
Wanna know why?
Because I’m an ignorant American.
I can tell you the top 40 pop songs on Billboard, describe shows I’ve never even watched… and I can’t give you a clear, 2-sentence explanation in answer to “What was the Arab Spring?”
So, wanna know how I found out about our impending invasion of Syria?
I was on Skype with my darling friend, who lives in Israel. We hadn’t talked in a few months, and last time we did, he was telling me about his lover. Mid-conversation, he says to me casually:
“We’ll probably go to war in the next month.”
You know the sound of a text-messaging driver as he narrowly misses rear-ending someone? That was the soundtrack of my brain at that moment.
I love learning about social issues and world events, but I never intended to know one without the other.
So why, instead, do I know so much about inane, pop culture events? Because that’s what is shoved into my face everyday. Imagine going to eat dinner at a nice restaurant, and someone is handing you a Little Caesar’s pizza on your way through the door. Sure, I like pizza, but I don’t always want it. Maybe I want something else sometime, something to round out my diet, like a salad or some quinoa-avocado-gluten-free-and-raw sh*t that people like to eat in San Francisco.
Here’s a true story: I stopped using Yahoo! email because every time I logged out, I was bombarded with “news” about Selena Gomez’ short shorts, or some 80’s celebrity, neither of whom impact my life. And I wanted my valuable, limited, ever-diminishing brain space to be occupied by something meaningful.
If I want something else, better news, news that actually affects lots of people — over 100,000 dead Syrians, in fact — I have to search for it. I have to shove the Little Caesar’s pizza aside and demand that the busy server give me the menu. And I’m not doing a great job of it.
Here’s another story: I started subscribing to the newspaper last month — the PAPER newspaper — right? Because I missed reading about world events. I was trying to control my news intake a little, get something else shoved into my face, not that Little Caesar’s pizza. And…. I learned that the newspaper dedicates ….. the two back pages of Section A to World News. Next, I have a whole section for Sports. Then a whole section for Lifestyle. Another whole section for Fashion and Movies. And I get two pages for World News.
I know that I can look for it. I can shove the pizza out of my face, and demand better news. I log onto the World news sections of websites that I don’t often read. Often, the information comes out disjointed and confusing, because I haven’t read Article #1 of the whole history of the conflict or country. I do Google searches for events when I get wind of them.
In order to get the news I want, the news that affects millions of people around the world, I have to spend my time researching. And researching with intent.
And that, my friends, is how I learned about Syria. I rallied up every skill I learned in school and found the news, the credible sources, the information.
I’m not proud of it. But I accept my actions, and acceptance is the first step to recovery.
I am an ignorant American, because that is what has been handed to me as I walk through the door. However, I don’t have to accept that. I am continuing to seek out the news that affects people in countries other than the huge, massive, all-encompassing one I live in. That is my responsibility as a privileged American, and the least I can do.
PS: Here are some links about Syria, if you are also an American trying to escape your ignorance.
Start here for sure:
Pretty comprehensive site from BBC in Britain:
And most recent news about how the Obama admin thinks Assad is responsible for chemical attacks. Confusing without the backstory: