Wrestlin’ with making sense of it all. You?


If you are reading this, you are one of roughly 1400 subscribers (Thank you!) or one of the many others who stops each day. I’m really hoping you will take a minute to comment. I’d appreciate it greatly.

Comment on what? Well, I’m pondering things like health care reform in the U.S., Afghanistan, BPA, the rise of the BRIC economies, global climate change, H1N1, and on a more local level, what the priorities of the Carrboro board of alderman should be. Truth is, if you were to stop me on the street, I’m not sure how coherently I would be able to talk about these and any number of other current issues.

Not that I don’t read, see, and hear a decent amount of information about all of these things. But that’s different from really developing an understanding of them. Or being able to make good decisions about them when necessary. So, I’m out to learn more what you might call working – or better yet, living – knowledge. By this I mean the sort of knowledge we need to cultivate day in and day out simply to live safe, healthy lives and be good citizens of our communities and the world

What about you? Where do you go for your information about current issues and events? What, if anything, do you do to move beyond the constant stream of data, opinions, and stories to develop a deeper understanding of what’s going on in the world around you? What’s working, what’s not?

Please comment and share your strategies. I’m hoping a good number of readers will be willing chip in and help each other out on this.


P.S. ā€“ If you like what you read here on Mission to Learn, Iā€™d really appreciate it if you would subscribe by RSS feed or by e-mail.

5 thoughts on “Wrestlin’ with making sense of it all. You?”

  1. Jason – Thanks for the very thoughtful comments. The times are indeed a’ changin’! I do notice that most of the people I have met (whether in person or virtually) who are truly serious about learning – i.e., not just formal education or information processing – tend to focus in on values, life goals, and relationships.

    BTW – What is the name of the lifelong learning network and the speaker you reference, if you don’t mind sharing? = Jeff

  2. Hi Jeff

    I am based in the UK and I was attending a conference yesterday held by a lifelong learning network.

    The speaker there was emphasising the uncertain times we are living in and particularly looking at education and the need for more learning to try and make sense of things, develop economic strength, and also as a way to do something about our personal situations. His view was that in the UK we are in for 6 years or so of hard times šŸ™

    He came to his conclusion by looking at previous challenges that had been faced over the past 30 years and he highlighted the huge changes taking place in our society.

    My thoughts are that taking a historical view is a good place to make sense of what is happening right now. Personally I think that looking at a much larger period of history makes sense.

    Civilisations and cultures have come and gone.

    Our western culture is going through a massive transition, displaced from economic supremacy, wrestling with new technology and trying to adjust to changes in every day life.

    I think this is creating new opportunities as well as challenges.

    Personally I decided the other day that I will finish work at 3-30 most days so I can spend more time with my children. The thinking behind that has come from learning, receiving coaching, talking to friends and colleagues, looking at history and my values, asking myself what is life about for me right now?

    I want to invest more time in my personal relationships and therefore I want to increase the share of my work that is done at home and online.

    I get my current news information from the television, through blogs and radio. The challenge I perceive with these main sources is that, along with the rest of us, they don’t really understand what is going on at the moment and so they are struggling.

    Listening to people around me talking about their own views and stories seems perhaps more valid as they don’t profess to be “experts”.

  3. Diana and Gregg – Many thanks to each of you for taking the time to comment. There is certainly a lot of “noise” and bias out there. I think setting priorities is essential, as Diana notes. On the other hand, there is always the danger of our worldview being governed solely by our own priorities. Inevitable to a certain extent, I suppose, but always something I struggle to temper as much as possible.

    I, too, have found that reading history really does help a great deal for gaining perspective. I also think it makes clear that people have always had to wrestle with a wide range of complex issues in their lives. It’s not just a symptom of the information age, though things certainly do move much faster now.

    I need to check into the Socrates Cafe – had not heard of that before.

    If others readers have thoughts, please jump in! – Jeff

  4. The issue you raise is the core issue for our constantly-connected, 24-7 world. So much of what is put out is biased to represent whatever organization or writer produces the piece. Bias is unavoidable at some level but deliberate bias is more the norm than the exception. One of the things that I do to gain perspective is to read a lot of history, especially American history. The more I read, the more I know that all these issues have been seen before. For instance, the power of the executive branch was hotly debated when Polk was president and unilaterally declared war on Mexico (to obtain Texas, New Mexico, and California). For current news, I try to go to PBS or the BBC as less biased than most news organizations. I also think it helps to discuss the issues in groups like Socrates Cafe which can be founded in many cities. Check your Meet-Up listings to see if there is one near you.

  5. Very timely piece. There is a lot of clutter and squawking about hundreds of important issues that affect our lives, coming from multiple directions. My personal approach requires me to first know who I am – what are those key issues that I am ready to go to battle over and what can I let go. For each person the answer is quite different and so their level of devotion and crusade on certain topics will go well beyond my personal interest or attachment. I am not inferring that each issue does not have a value, but that I must assign my own priority, if you will, otherwise I would not get anything accomplished.
    Next, once I’ve determined my level of commitment, I intentionally seek out resources that can be verified/substantiated to better understand the issue at heart, as much as possible. In other words, I do not allow the noise around me to dictate my “living”, instead I take responsibility to filter out that which is not applicable.
    Thank you for sharing so many “gems” – you have provided many solid resources through your blog.

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