There is this game called Table Topics that my husband and I carry around when we go on dinner dates or when we hang out with friends and family. They make for great icebreakers and conversations.
One question that came up during a family dinner was: What is your obligation to your country? … It was quite the juicy topic. I kept mine pretty neutral.
My answer was: My obligation to my country is to be a well informed citizen so that I can stand up for what is right and have a constructive conversation with and against what is wrong. Literacy and learning leads to empathy and understanding.
I found that, amongst my peers, the desire to be more politically aware was a goal for many of them — especially with the upcoming election. I thought it would make a great conversation to brainstorm on ways people can go about achieving this goal, no matter what side you sit on.
As social media and influencers play a major role in how people digest the news, I encourage you to go through this checklist we’ve come up with to make sure you are being influenced by credible sources.
#1) Check their professional background. Who do they work for? Who have they worked for? Where were they educated? What groups or professional associations do they belong to? Just last week in the New York Times they uncovered findings from a study that revealed discrepancies in America’s history textbooks. To me, there was no surprise there, but the point is — we are a product of our education, and so too are the people you follow.
#2) Who else endorses their opinion? You’ve heard the old saw, “You’re known by the company you keep.” When it comes to a news source, look to see who else takes them seriously, who dismisses them and, most importantly, who pays them.
This article from CNBC outlines some resources to find out what CEO’s donate or support political campaigns.
#3) Check for hypocrisy. Do they hold themselves to the same standards that they critique?
#4) Do they issue corrections? A news source focused on the facts will issue corrections when they’ve gotten the facts wrong (which is inevitable for even the best sources). If you don’t see any corrections being issued from time to time, that’s suspicious.
#5) Do they exhibit a sense of humor? The ability to laugh at oneself (and the world) typically signifies that they are self-aware and thus in control of their ego. These are usually the type of people who are willing to cop to a mistake, too. Plus, anyone with a sense of humor is more enjoyable than someone without!
Becoming more politically aware doesn’t have to be at the national level. There are plenty of topics you can follow within your city, county, or state. Create Google alerts to easily monitor the web on topics such as homelessness, environmental change, or people you want to follow. Subscribe to daily, weekly, or monthly digests and spend one morning in a coffee shop catching up.
Now I ask you the same table topic: What is your obligation to your country?
Be sure to check out the rest of my #GOALS series:
Thanks for reading 🙂
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