“I’m sorry I’m late. I had a lot to learn.”

From “20 Myths about Religion and Politics in America” by Ryan P. Burge

Altering our understanding of the world based on new information is not a sign of weakness but great intellectual strength. Can you imagine if we all had the same viewpoints that we held when we were eighteen? One of the most powerful images I’ve seen in the last few years was a man standing at a protest holding a small sign that said, “I’m sorry I’m late. I had a lot to learn.” What a tremendous display of humility and openness.

I am reminded of the famous quote by James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” If large swaths of the American public go through life with a fundamentally flawed understanding of the world around them and a misperception of where they fit into the larger fabric of society, they are never really facing the problems facing us. They are making decisions on whom to vote for on election day based only on caricatures of what our country really looks like. An educated electorate with a nuanced understanding of politics and government is insulated against the political rhetoric of politicians seeking office. The use of buzzwords and cherry-picked statistics does not change their minds. An engaged citizenry is immune to pandering, because citizens seek to elect people who have a clear vision for the future and can articulate how to implement policies that get closer to that ideal.