New Year's Challenge, Day 6

Do you know what is going on?

Fact: It is illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church anywhere in Alabama. No one may catch fish with his bare hands in Kansas. By law all bathtubs in Minnesota must have feet. Do you happen to know it is against the law to sing off key in North Carolina? We all know how cold it gets in North Dakota but don’t even think about sleeping with your shoes on. That, my friend, is against the law!

On July 7, 2009 I was particularly sensitized to a horrible disaster happening in India. That day monsoon rains stranded half a million people who lost crops, all of their belonging, and loved ones to this tragic event. However, the attention of all those with whom I spoke that day was completely focused on something else. July 7th 2009 was also when the memorial service for Michael Jackson was broadcasted on TV. As we should expect the memorial service celebrating the life of an American icon is a very relevant event, so it is no surprise it resonates with us more than the struggles of half a million people with whom we empathize, but don’t really know. Is this our fault? Hardly! Our everyday experiences are, to a large extent, chosen by some editor at a magazine or a programmer at a TV studio. It is not their responsibility to make you and me into well-rounded individuals and responsible citizens of the world, but to provide programming that will serve the consensus of millions of people. How would YOU make editing or programming decisions if you were in their shoes?

As much as the laws I mentioned may be funny, they are a great example of things around us that seem so absurd they make us laugh, but that are real. And the legal system upon which our nation is built is never a laughing matter. Still some people don’t care or don’t know how laws are removed, added, or changed, although they must live by it. 

Today I challenge you to become a more aware citizen. Starting today read two articles per day in a topic you don’t dominate. If you don’t know economics read about it. If you know economics then learn about politics. If you know both then learn business. Pick your own subject. Read it, watch it, and listen to it using different media and news sources, national and international. Once you start building a set of knowledge in new areas, things that never mattered to you before will become an integral part of your life and your decision making mechanism. 

Knowing what is going on is not about being smarter than the next guy. It is about knowing what you actually believe in a world that wants very badly for you to adopt somebody else’s opinions for your own.