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No law… abridging the freedom… of the press

By Leanndra W. Padgett
Backpage Editor / Global Scholar

Source: Patrick Barker GC formed the letters “SOS” on Giddings in solidarity with Venezuelans.

Source: Patrick Barker
GC formed the letters “SOS” on Giddings in solidarity with Venezuelans.

My call to fellow college students: be informed about things outside of your sphere. I’m preaching to myself and am all too aware of the lure of an insular, self- absorbed life. But we must move beyond.

Lest you think that this is another treatise on campus unity, hear that I am referring to a larger scope than our campus. This is more than a call to move beyond our Greek or Independent status, sports teams, clubs or personal cliques. This is a call to look at the world in which we live and recognize its global issues.

Pop quiz: 1. What has happened in Ukraine this month?

2. What is the current state of Syria?

3. What is going on in Venezuela? If you’re anything like me, these events all ring a bell. You have vague impressions about wars and rumors of wars, but do not have a real understanding of these situations.

I’m not calling all of us to become political analysts or experts, but as educated people we need to have an idea of what’s going on in the world. As conscientious members of society, we need to care about the plights of our international brethren (and sistren).

As college students (or newspaper readers), we are people actively seeking higher education. By this point, we surely realize that most of our education is coming from self-initiative. High school teachers no longer feed us information; we are asked to think and learn and seek understanding.

It is so easy for us to be informed. We have innumerous news and social media sites, in addition to the old fashioned TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, books and even EBSCO for crying out loud. Access to the world is all around us.

On Monday, I learned that our Venezuelan friends are not as lucky. When I attended SOS Venezuela in the LRC, one of the most compelling things that I learned was about the suppression of the press within that country. Venezuelans cannot make the injustices they are experiencing known, even within their own nation, because their government has control of the media. Twitter has even been shut down.

The loss of the freedom of expression and the suppression of truth in any situation is an outrage. I am so proud of the Venezuelan Georgetown College students who stepped up in these desperate times and used their voices here in Kentucky. They informed our campus about what is going on, demonstrating that the issue is personal — all of us have seen these students around our own campus — and that there is a need for our attention.

International crises often leave me with a sense of helplessness and inaction. How do we move past the paralysis induced by knowledge? It is true that ignorance is bliss and “the more knowledge, the more grief,” as Scripture says (Ecclesiastes 1:18).

The Venezuelans left us with a clear action item, however — spread the word. Since their countrymen (and women) are limited in their ability to make the world aware of these atrocities, those of us with a free voice should take it on as our responsibility. You don’t have to be an expert — just ask a question that leads others to google the situation online. Bring it up at lunch, see what your friends know about the situation or mention it in a relevant class discussion.

We need to exercise the benefits of our access to knowledge by learning about the world. So, I challenge you — take a step this week to learn about current events. Be discerning — there are plenty of junk articles out there, but seek reliable sources and give them a try. We must move beyond ourselves.