A few years ago, a friend of mine from university told me about a conversation she had with a friend about Canada. During the course of the conservation, the friend stopped to ask, “where is Canada, is it in Africa? You can imagine my shock and disbelief when she narrated this story to me. I guess I assumed that everyone (most especially a university student), should know where Canada is located, right? Wrong, clearly not everyone knows this. This is why I think it is important for everyone to know a little about the world around them.
Six reasons why you should know about the world around you.
Although I think it is fairly obvious why everyone should know a little about the world around them. I think that it is only fair that I jot down what is playing in mind as I type away. First, it is important to know about the world around you, because it puts you at a position of advantage and gives you a head-start. You never know when you might need to go for a job or scholarship interview and the interviewer just randomly decides to break away from the prepared line of questioning and asks you a random question like “what do you think about Obama’s immigration policy”? There is obviously no right or wrong answer to a question like this, but if you don’t have the slightest clue about Obama’s immigration policy, you will be left biting the end of your pen accompanied by sporadic and long sounds of “hmmm”.
The second reason why you should know about the world around you is due to the resultant “butterfly effect”. As the saying goes, we live in a global village and something that happens on the other side of the world may affect your live in untold ways. Having said this, you may remember a few years ago, in 2013 to be precise, snowy and icy conditions in the western hemisphere caused the grounding of many international and domestic flights leaving and entering these regions. During this period, Kenya’s flower industry was severely affected causing a drop in revenue in the country, all because they could not export one of the mainstays of their economy to the UK. This is an example of how something perceived to be small may end up causing complex problems that affect our lives in untold ways.
Third, we need to concern ourselves about the world around us, because it may lead to a “domino effect”. It is easy to sit comfortably in a “bubble” and say that you don’t need to concern yourself about what happens thousands of kilometres away. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. This is because what happens miles away may actually end up at your door step. In 2010, the Arab Spring which initially started in Tunisia, due to calls for democracy, quickly spread to neighbouring countries like Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. The citizens of these countries probably didn’t predict that these protests would end up at their door steps but it did.
Four, it is our responsibility as global citizens to care about the world around us. As citizens of the world, we should care about what happens to our neighbours, this way we can change the trajectory of events. In 2010, Haiti experienced the worst earthquake in its history, but due to international assistance (volunteer doctors and health care workers as well as donations of food, clothes and other necessities) and aid (money) from countries far and near, many lives that would otherwise have been lost, were saved.
Five, it is important to have an International perspective on the world, particularly when it comes cultural differences. I would say it is probably a good idea to know that in Angola, people (of both sexes) greet by kissing on the cheeks but in Saudi Arabia bodily contact especially among people of the opposite sex, who are not related is practically forbidden. Having knowledge about these cultural differences will save you a world of embarrassment and awkward looks.
And lastly, it is important for the purposes of self-fulfilment and enrichment. There is a sense of satisfaction that you feel when you know enough to hold a conversation in public. Might I add that it also makes playing recreational general knowledge games a lot more easier and fun. I mean how would you feel if you had to play a game say like 30 seconds and none of your teammates could depend on you (or decide to skip you altogether) because you don’t have the slightest idea about the world you live in? This is not to say that the sole purpose of learning about the world is to be a better player at 30 seconds but for your own self-fulfillment and enrichment. I believe that everyone should know a lot more than just the latest Hollywood gossip, celebrity twitter wars, make-up, fashion trends, sports or reality TV shows like Keeping up with the Kardashians.
How to learn more about the world around you
I have always considered myself lucky to live in this new age of technological prowess which makes information readily available, (it is literally a click away). These days it is so easy to have access to the latest information, from newspapers, to the internet, to RSS feeds and twitter, the list is endless. Because we have at our disposal, access to countless sources of information, we should harness this opportunity to learn more.
A few last words
We live in a global village that is increasingly inter-connected through the media, communication and travel. What happens on the other side of the world can affect us in untold ways. Therefore, we should do ourselves and the world at large justice, by learning a little about the world we live in.