{Thankful November} 7: Information

November 7th, 2011 | Rachel

Join me in the comments or on your own blog as I give thanks every day this month.

Today, I am thankful to be connected to the world and to have free access to information.  This is an easy one to take for granted in the United States, but I think it is important to remember that not everyone has such unlimited access to such a wide variety of information sources.  I was reminded of this fact during my travels through China this past winter.  For example, social media has revolutionized the way that information is shared, and a lot of it is still blocked in China.

Its amazing what a difference information can make.  Throughout history, parties in power (or trying to get into power) have limited information as method of control.  Just look at the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the late 1970s.  Even in the United States today, many politicians and other persons in positions of power carefully choose which information to share in an effort to sway viewers and voters to act in a certain way.  Sadly, this is an effective tool because many people are either too busy or too lazy to seek out the other sides of the story.

One of my favorite quotes is from the movie The Elephant Man.  John Merrick, the “Elephant Man” is having tea with a socially prominent man and his nervous wife who is terrified by the sight of Merrick.  As she sips her tea with a trembling hand, John calmly states, “People are frightened by what they don’t understand.”  Merrick says that even he has a hard time understanding why he looks the way he looks because his mother was so beautiful.

For many of us, our instinctual reaction to something new and different or perhaps contrary to what we are used to ranges from distrust to overt hostility.  Most of the time we don’t even realize that is what is happening.  However, as my latest business book suggests, “Don’t get furious, get curious.”  In Merrick’s case, anyone who took the time to get to know him discovered that he was not only very well-mannered and kind-hearted but also very intelligent and interesting to talk to.

We don’t have to accept anything at face value because we have the resources to investigate what is deep below the surface.  We can connect with people with alternative viewpoints to see why they think differently and we can find hard facts and figures to help determine the reality of the situation.

For these reasons, I am thankful to have such an open access to information.

One Response to “{Thankful November} 7: Information”

  1. […] feels like it is taking too long, I believe that as the world gets more connected and informed (see previous blog post), people will let go of their baseless biases (“that’s the way it’s […]

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