The individual is the focus of global changes. It seems so very easy to take for granted what mankind has achieved. We have achieved the possibility of limitless information. We have achieved the possibility of international communication. This is extremely specific to an individual, yet comprehensive for entire societies. The thought is overwhelming. Among billions of people, each individual connected to the Internet can learn and form opinions. What thus are we learning as individuals?
There is the unmistakable confusion. So much information, even in one’s own language, could never have been found before. There are ideas available too which are foreign to the set of ideas usually contained in that language. The English language, for example, is truly international and contains thoughts from a great diversity. Being introduced to the English language would affect a person far differently than one not introduced to it. In this example is evident a contemporary situation. Knowledge defines who a person is. And what is knowledge? It is the information a person has access to. Everything starts with it.
An individual flying through information
People differ in their ability to go through information. It is the same as birds. Some birds can migrate over huge distances, whereas others spend their lives in a locality. It is the same with humans. Some humans can go through large sets of information, whereas others limit even their contact with other ideas.
It is not possible to convince each person to open up and discover what this world is. Even today, despite the possibility of endless discovery, many individuals choose to be ignorant. Why? There are several reasons. Fear is a very significant factor.
Fear of new information
Knowledge can give a sense of liberation, but it can also elicit fear in many individuals. Societies in the past were open to specific sets of information. Whenever new information came to a society, it was met with apprehension. Yes, some individuals were always open to welcome it. Very likely, they found elements in that new information resonating with their own past longings and beliefs. Others could have found it inviting because of the challenge.
So, we have to agree, that attitude toward information is a major factor in how individuals respond to new information. A unanimous agreement, that some information threatens society, would cause most to stand up against it. Only a few individuals would still remain open to the ideas. We find that individuals can remain reluctant to be receptive, despite a willingness to listen to new ideas. Why some people stand against new information could be understood by acknowledging their fear.
Should we condemn the fearful?
A purely academic interest in new information is one thing. However, to take information in a way that it affects how one lives and thinks is, quite another matter. When decisions have to be made on the basis of what knows and learns, it affects how people live. So, to have a certain amount of fear regarding knowledge is actually not a bad thing. This fear keeps an individual and a society alert.
A good attitude, then, would be to keep a balance of fear and inquisitiveness. With a willingness to listen, one could also keep the willingness to examine the information. During such a mental examination of information, one could find that there was a legitimate place for fear. Such an individual could be in a position to foresee the dangers of uncritical acceptance of information. Thus, it would be a good service to oneself and to society to keep some fear. We shouldn’t so quickly condemn those with such a feeling!