Day 39: Listen

/ˈlɪs(ə)n/ : To give one’s attention to a sound. I’m sure you know the definition. But lately, I realised that few of us do anymore. We are good at pretending we are. Like my dad says, we hear through one ear and what’s been said flies out through the other. There’s a short back story to my inspiration for this post.

After a year of using them, my earphones died on Sunday. I was in TK Maxx, doing some shopping (you know it’s therapy), listening to one of my favourite podcasts 3ShotsofTequila and … a sudden silence from my left earphone. Although irritated, I didn’t complain. I couldn’t! Because for earphones that cost me less than £13, I had gotten more than full use out of them. The value for money probably ended at 6 months so I’m grateful. Since I was in TK Maxx, I decided to get a cheap option to keep me going till I replace my old faithfuls. When I am listening to more podcasts than music, the sound output is the least of my worries. They’ve been okay so far but I can tell the difference. For £5, I cannot expect better. All I need is some barrier between me and the world as I am out there and I am getting some of it. Their shittiness only struck me a few hours ago when I decided to wind my day with some Hans Zimmer (for those that do not know who he is, listen to movie scores, he’s one of the most celebrated composers.) There’s nothing worse sounding though than Classical music coming through lousy earphones. Yes, it’s worse than blending forks.

So yeah, it hit me when I was listening to another favourite, actually it’s number one on my list now, DMD Podcast. Like a tonne of bricks, that so much information is out there for us but we barely use it to our advantage. Maybe we do not want to exert ourselves, we are too comfortable, I don’t know. All I know is there is a lot of ignorance floating around. I don’t know everything! Don’t quote me even, but I have had many a conversation with people that are holding their phones in their hands all the time, have access to the internet, and they still cannot use google to enlighten themselves. Like Skribz said, (I’m paraphrasing here), few want to be students. The fact that the words “I don’t know, can you enlighten me” or “show me where I can find that information” don’t really exist in our heads anymore is disturbing. This is where politicians win. They know the wider public, the one that can force them into change, is okay with being spoon fed information. Whether it is wrong or right, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is has the agenda been pushed?

My dad always made sure we discussed politics and history when I was younger. Whenever I asked him for help with my homework, I got more than I asked for. I was a child then, I found it long of course! Now though, I see and appreciate what he was doing. I remember we had news books (part of the homework) in which we wrote a summary of what struck us most as we read the newspapers. While most of my classmates got away with copy and paste,my old man wanted me to write everything in my own words. He always took the time to explain to me what I did not understand. As time went on, I started discussing with him over coffee or tea. I vividly remember my first cup of coffee. I was 11 (loved the experience but that’s a story for another day.) These discussions are definitely part of what led me to Law school. I was determined to work with the UN or the ICC, be a Judge or something. Till I realised the fuckery that goes on in all these institutions. The laws are made but politics gets in and messes it all up. It does more damage than when you pour juice into a laptop. It’s happened to me before, I had a coursework deadline to beat, it wasn’t pretty!

See when the law is made, everyone is expected to follow it. It should work that way. At least in an ideal world. What is ignored, and I’m sure it’s on purpose, is the fact that one CANNOT follow a law they DO NOT KNOW! It’s no surprise either that a phrase like “Ignorance of the law excuses no one” exists. And it is said proudly by the way. Those that know the law, usually the same that make it, do not give a shit if you don’t know. Politicians and other people in power banking on the ignorance of the masses is something I noticed when I was in Uganda. I was 12. We were studying Civics at the time. Talking about Human Rights and Duties. I remember my dad bringing the up the duty of the State to the Citizen. All they taught us at the time was the duty of the Citizen to the State (of course!) You have to know that when you reach a certain age, you’ll pay the Gov’t a part of your wages whether you like it or not. It’s a given. The government doesn’t want you to really know the other side. It’s cheeky that way. So when my dad brought up the other side, I knew I could not forget it. Something that isn’t as emphasised but is important usually stays in your head.

Ignorance is not bliss. It just reduces your outrage and makes you complacent and easily accepting of anything as long as it is packaged well. Best example of how this works out, is in the rural areas of Uganda (what am I saying, in the urban areas too.) These people are living in absolute poverty. They lack things like medical care, they have some of the highest infant mortality rates, but because they do not see themselves as tax payers, they have no outrage over how fucked the government is. All the President (been the same for 31 years now) and his counterparts have to do, is give them handouts. A little money, about £1 equivalent and a t-shirt, a kilo of sugar, and they’re voted again. All the broken promises of the past 5 years are forgotten. It instantly becomes a case of the man cares about us. Another vicious 5 years begins and the cycle continues. If you told these people that for every little sugar, oil, soap, paraffin for the lamps, that they buy, some goes to the government, maybe they would care about the poor services that are available to them.

Fucked up thing is, it is the same damn thing everywhere else in the world. The first world too (no one should lie to you that it’s different.) All that makes it seem better is the fact that the first world has had a longer time juggling this democracy thing so the lies are just more refined. They use numbers and statistics, the media pushes it down your throat for them. This is why we need to listen and eliminate the ignorance. We are given 10% of the information directly or less. We have to get the other 90% ourselves. It might seem hard but take a few minutes off snapping and google something useful. Get into an argument with someone who has different views from yours, don’t make it a nuclear war though, you’re just people, not countries. It works. It is how I made up my mind in the 2015 election and the Brexit one too. I had only been here a few months for the first and a year for the second. I definitely had little to no information on what to vote for. Enlightening myself worked. For the former I wasn’t even sure I cared, I actually didn’t but I know numbers matter. One is too little but if we all put in what we could (walking to the polling station and ticking that candidate) we would see the change, rock the boat with time maybe even have a whole revolution. I’m tired of talking to people who are all about the it won’t make a difference story line.

You DON’T know! You NEVER know! It is all about doing your part for your future.

I’ve talked too much today. 2 hours into my bedtime, but I had to say whatever I have said. Could have said more but I will not tell my manager I was late because I stayed up writing. Till the next entry.

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