[Re-Posted from 2016-07-15]
As Heather and I sat on our patio last night, it occurred to me that a large portion of the United States’ population hold in their hands the key to escape oppression, ignorance and poverty. This “key” is called a smartphone.
These devices have been used recently to create videos of everything from cute cats to the final breaths of shooting victims. The latter videos have incited a level of violence not seen in our country for several decades (thinking about the late 60’s and civil rights protests). The owner’s of these devices are obviously well skilled at operating them. They know how to create videos, post comments and organize protests (often disguised as riots).
Many of the device owners have proclaimed they are being oppressed by the police, the “man”, and a variety of other entities. They complain because they feel they aren’t getting their “fair cut” of the wealth. They complain about not having an equal opportunity. My friends…they are wrong. That same device that empowers them to instigate violence can also be used as an educational tool. How smartphone owners are able to afford multi-hundred dollar devices remains a mystery to me. How they are able to keep these devices connected to the Internet continues to remain a mystery to me. What is not a mystery is the amazing number of free tools that have been made available to everyone. Not just white people…not just brown people…but for everyone.
If the police are arresting a suspect, you can pretty much expect several smartphones (with cameras) are recording the incident. These events happen at all times of the day or night. Then YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and every other social media website will light up with excitement from the 30-second clip. The whole story is never shown. Even the so-called “media” buys into the frenzy. How much more usefulness is that smartphone capable of providing?
How about Google for example? Yes, you can ask Google just about anything you want…and you’ll get your instant response. But, did you know that Google has been scanning books into a massive online library for years now? Those books are available to everyone. Everything from literature to science to history…all available in the palm of your hands.
Another example is MIT (otherwise know as Massachusetts Institute of Technology)…on of America’s most prestigious technical colleges. They offer an enormous amount of classes, books and other information…free of charge. All you have to do it go to their website.
And then we have Stanford University. They offer free classes…yes…free. They don’t discriminate…there is not affirmative action…there are no hidden quotas. You just sign up…and you can take classes.
Here in the State of Tennessee, we have a system called the Regents Online Degree Program (RODP). I suspect many other states have similar programs. You can earn a degree by taking classes entirely online. And…if you are in-fact poverty stricken…you’re in luck…you’ll most likely qualify for a Pell Grant that will pay for all of the expenses. That’s a “grant”…you never pay it back.
With those same devices that are being used to post hate and violence…you can learn. You can become educated. Regardless of color, creed, sexual preference, or economic status (given my comment that smartphones are ubiquitous even in the “poverty stricken ghettos”). Not a single person has a legitimate excuse to complain about being stuck in a crappy situation. If you have time to surf Facebook…you have time to read a chapter from a textbook. If you have time to stand on a corner and video the police doing their job…you have time to take a class. If you’re not content in your current situation…you have the power in the palm of your hand to change it!
What are you going to do?
Finally, after you’ve watched that 30-second video clip…and you’re pissed-off and want to retaliate…use that same smartphone to finish what you just started. Get the whole story. Take the time to find all the facts…not just the part someone posted to elicit your emotional outburst. Educate yourself…in all aspects of life.
Ignorance is not bliss…it’s just ignorance.