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Reading equals knowledge and knowledge is power.

1 Heart it! Kathy Washburn 148
August 16, 2018
Kathy Washburn
1 Heart it! 148

As young as five my sons would cry in frustration, “Why? Why do I have to read?” My canned response, one they heard hundreds of times, was this:

“Because. Reading equals knowledge and knowledge is power.”

Oh, the days when reading was in direct competition to playing outside.  Did I mention we lived in Minnesota? To those two boys and their neighborhood posse, outside was heaven. Rain, snow, sleet or sun.  They were an adventurous amoeba. On any given day you could find this gang building forts with items they found in the woods, or in your garage.  Riding bikes on courses they made up that traversed every driveway.  Creating their own games with random rules.  “Butt boarding” was a favorite.  A biker pulled a brave soul who was sitting on a skateboard, attached via a bungy cord. Unfortunately, their creation was never made into the Olympic sport they dreamed of.

When they got into their teenage years I expanded the chant.

“Mindcraft is mind-numbing! It is reading that equals knowledge and knowledge is power!!!”

The exclamation point emphasized my argument, my voice decibel and my tone. For those of you who may not know, Mindcraft is a video game. Video gaming plays with the neural reward system in our brains. This leads to a craving, the wanting of more, which leads to addiction. Gaming is also believed to lead to anti-social behavior and isolation. Removing people from what is taking place in the world around them.  Mind-numbing was the topic of many conversations at our house.

In response to the call of my local newspaper, The Boston Globe, I choose to use my words to defend journalism in our nation.  This may not make sense right away, but I make the following comparison.

Video Gaming is to Media/Information as Journalism is to Knowledge.

Stick with me here. I swear this will get clearer. Let us start with making the distinction between information and knowledge. From the wisdom of our beloved Merriam-Webster…

Information is the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence.

Knowledge is the condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience.

Can we all agree that we live in a world of information overload? Bits and bytes of communication coming at us at light speed.  With varying degrees of knowledge or intelligence.  To take this a step further, do we find ourselves holed up in our own video game of sorts, allowing our mind to go numb? Stuck on the neural reward track where we can’t get enough of the information that feeds us what we want to hear? Because truly, the sheer amount is daunting.  Overwhelming.

It is of utmost importance to break these neural pathways. Not restrict ourselves to what is making us comfortable, separating us from the world that we live in.  Create new neural pathways by putting some effort behind assimilating information.

I challenge you to read.  Read!

Read from trusted sources. Journalists whose job is to share knowledge of topics “gained through their experience” on issues that you are not yet literate in. Matters that we do not understand due to our lack of access and experience. We must seek out knowledgeable sources. In the same way we seek out physicians when we are in need of medical help.

The role of journalism in our country is to hold powerful people and institutions accountable for what they do and say, so those of us blessed to be living in a democratic society can make knowledgeable decisions.

Contrary to what we hear, the vast majority of journalists adhere to The Journalist’s Creed. The Journalist’s Creed is a code of ethics like the Medical Code of Ethics that physicians adhere and swear to. Do you question your physician’s intent when you make an appointment? Do you question his/her oath to “do no harm”?  Why are we asked to question the professionalism and integrity of our journalists?

“The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people. “ ~Tom Clancy

The Journalist’s Creed was written in 1914 by Walter Williams.  Mr Williams was the founding dean of the Missouri School of Journalism. From Wikipedia the creed reads,

– I believe in the profession of journalism.

– I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.

– I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.

– I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true.

– I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.

– I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one’s own pocketbook is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another’s instructions or another’s dividends.

– I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.

– I believe that the journalism which succeeds best — and best deserves success — fears God and honors Man; is stoutly independent, unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power, constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance and, as far as law and honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship; is a journalism of humanity, of and for today’s world.

Journalists are professionals.  They have taken a professional oath, just like your doctor.

Do not allow yourself to be be fed mind-numbing information. Exercise your right, as an American citizen, living in the freedom of a democratic society.  Embrace the plethora of knowledge available to you.  Provided by the tireless work of the professional journalists in our country.

Get off your “video game” and expand your horizons.

Knowledge is power! Do not let anyone take that away from you.

What can one do to gain knowledge vs numb ourselves with information?

Wake up each morning noting that you have a brain with the cognitive ability to think.
Have faith. Physicians take the oath of not harming. Journalists take the oath of providing knowledge based on truth. These oaths allow you and I to make educated decisions in the path of our health and our freedom.
Support quality news organization with your dollars. Reading “free” information is a very cheap way to numb your mind. Put your money where your brain is. Buy an actual newspaper, or subscribe online.
Do not read only from sources that make you comfortable. Expand your mind.
Share your new-found knowledge with those you love.

Spit spot. You have work to do!

“Knowledge is power. Ignorance is weakness.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

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1 Heart it! Kathy Washburn 148
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