Imagine getting a fever, sneezing, coughing, feeling awfully tired, and just not knowing what hit your perfect life. Not knowing what microbes are, just because you have never seen or heard of them before. Imagine looking out at the ocean and thinking that the Earth stretches out flat for millions of miles. Not knowing about the planet you live on. Imagine being the mother of three and thinking that all you were born to do was to cook, clean, and rear. Not knowing your own potential. Imagine being born rich and wondering where your breakfast lunch and dinner appear from and why your house is sparkling clean and your bed is made every day. Not knowing who slogs while you sit back and relax.
Today, we know. And that is the often ignored and nonchalantly overlooked boon of today. Awareness. We know what happens across the world. We no longer have to die in groups because we are unaware of what befell us. We no longer have to gawk when someone talks about feminism or socialism. Today, we can judge a person by the things they speak, and we can guess what we have by the symptoms we display.
The Spanish conquistadors Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizzaro uprooted the entire civilizations of the Aztec in current day Mexico and the Inca in current day Peru, in 1521 and 1532, respectively. Within a decade of each other, Cortes and Pizzaro wreaked havoc in the indigenous people, destroyed their lands and Gods, and planted the crucifix in victory. Pizzaro had 180 men, and the Inca emperor at the time, Atahuallpa, had an army of 30,000. And yet, the behemoth was dislocated with ease. If the Incas had even an inkling of what happened to the Aztecs in Mesoamerica just a few years ago, they would have been alert, more aware of the impending colonial doom, and would have been well prepared. On the other hand, the Spanish knew. They knew that it was easy to conquer, because they had seen Cortes accomplish it with a few men and some guns. The difference between life and death – awareness. Information. Knowledge.
And inherently, though we are so used to it now that we take it for granted, the difference between our lives and death is also awareness. Being aware of the risks of any endeavor, learning from history, knowing about the food we eat, the car we buy, the street we turn into, the medicine we take, the clothes and shoes we purchase. All of this awareness is the key to the very lives we live. Granted that this age facilitates the wildfire-like spread of misinformation too, but we must not forget or dismiss the presence of heaps of information in the first place. Today we know what will put us at risk, what will keep us happy, what route to take to avoid the traffic, what book to read, what pill to pop when we have a headache, and how much water to drink.
There is information everywhere. Sometimes it is too much, sometimes we wish we did not have as much. But imagine living in a world where you are unaware, confused and constantly shocked because you just don’t know. Embrace today’s information and awareness, because that has caused revolutions, stopped wars, spread smiles, and saved lives. Information is wealth. And awareness is prosperity.