Sunday, January 1, 2012


It’s 2012. If you’re still into the whole Mayan calendar thing, this is our last year. But does it matter?


What does matter, then?

To me, it’s simple. It matters that we as a society are too simplistic, too willing to take too many things at face value. It matters that we refuse to think deeply, that we do not commit ourselves to rational and insightful discourse about the things that matter. It matters that we are content to get by, to do good enough, when all over the world, there are peoples who need change just to go to sleep with a full stomach. It matters that we think protests and activism are cool, but refuse to contribute to the intellectual climate that makes it possible. It matters that our icons are people who are famous for God knows what, and not thinkers, scientists, activists and the like.  

Granted, there’s a lot (maybe too much) wrong with the world. And there are many obstacles that come in our way. Inequality, poverty, lousy teachers and so on. But none of us should surrender to these. None of us should make these excuses for giving in to simple escapism and cheap thrills.

Whether we are 8, 18 or 80, we should never be content with what’s already there. If you’re a doctor, ask how a drug/treatment could be more effective. If you’re a lawyer, don’t be content with the laws as they are. If you… well, you get my drift. At least, I hope so.

So this year, let’s start to be hungry to learn. Pick up some good books, on science, on politics, on different cultures, ways of thinking and ways of living. How you want to end up is entirely up to you; knowing a little bit about everything, or everything about a little bit. Heck, some combination of the two, if it pleases you.

Do more. If the newspapers feature some disaster, don’t forget it the next month. Track the victims’ progress. Or get to know a culture few have heard about. Everyone knows about Brazilian samba. How about the Yanomamo Indians?

And for heaven’s sake, let’s all learn to have a good argument without insulting the opposing party. Yes, I’m talking to you too, Malaysian politicians.

Here’s to an enlightening 2012. Live. But more importantly, learn.
'Life without knowledge is death in disguise’
Talib Kweli