I think it’s safe to say that all of us have pretty severe limitations on what we know. In thinking about choosing a major and its formative effects (in part the fact we ultimately find out little of the majors we didn’t choose, but a lot about the one we did.), it occurred to me that it’s possible I’m missing out on something I’d really enjoy.
This really came to mind when I read this BBC article talking about a regional election in India. I know that Narendra Modi is the head of the Hindu-nationalist BJP. I believe it’s generally thought he’s generally moderate but his party may be less so. He defeated the INC (and a coalition they led) and ousted the government led by Manmohan Singh. That’s probably a fair bit to know for somebody only tangentially interested in Indian politics.
Ultimately, in the BBC article I wasn’t aware that regional parties were such a large part of Indian politics. I wasn’t aware that Indian elections were regional and held at different times. I didn’t know it badly lost in Delhi or Bihar. (or that Bihar was an Indian state!)
Further looking revealed the Assam based All India United Democratic Front (otherwise, and very verbosely known as the সৰ্ব ভাৰতীয় সংযুক্ত গণতান্ত্ৰীক মৰ্চা अखिल भारतीय संयुक्त लोकतांत्रिक मोर्चा) I also learned that that language was Bengali. Also revealed to me was the fact there is both an upper and lower house in the Indian congress.
Essentially, though I know enough about Indian politics to be considered ‘current’ there is a whole other level of depth and complexity beyond what I’m aware of, and I’m sure another one beyond that. It certainly makes me wonder how much I know about the things I’d like to think I’m well versed in. Every country out there has its own internal politics, and although I may be familiar with the transition in Burma/Myanmar, the longstanding lack of stability in Nigeria, or the BJP’s landslide win in the Indian elections, ultimately I’m totally unsure what is going on in Lithuania, let alone Comoros or Kenya. The news just doesn’t cover these things, so we don’t think of them. But ultimately these events effect millions of people: we just aren’t made to think of it. It’s worth considering how the media effects what we believe to be important, and the false confidence it can give us when considering world affairs.