COLUMN: Empower yourself and combat ignorance and misinformation

Published 11:00 am Friday, April 26, 2024

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By Chris A. Quilpa
Your Turn

One of the mission statements of this award-winning publication is “to report the news that affects the people of our community fairly and accurately.” Since 1873, this newspaper has served the public greatly and also performed one of the spiritual works of mercy, in my view as a Catholic Christian, that is, instructing the ignorant and uninformed (and, indirectly, helping counsel the doubtful).

All of us are tasked with feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, giving alms to the poor and needy, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and/or prisoners, and burying the dead. These are corporal works of mercy. Likewise, we’re to help counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant and uninformed, and pray for the living and the dead. These are spiritual works of mercy that we all strive to do or continue to do as a faith community.

Whether you’re an academician, a teacher-educator, a newspaper person, a powerful politician, a plain professional, an ordinary citizen with a decent, good education who advocates for the truth, or a curious and diligent student, learning is never-ending for as long as you’re alive, sane, and sensible. It’s a lifelong process and a journey that propels one to possibilities of service, sacrifice, and success.

Learning is a lifelong process of transforming information and experience into knowledge, skills, and behaviors. It is the process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences.

Education, on the other hand, is the process of facilitating learning or one approach to learning. It’s the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. It’s a process whereby a society passes on knowledge, values, and skills from one generation to another. 

To learn is to live to care for and improve yourself and the things that matter most to you. To learn is also to change, grow, love, and protect yourself from doubt, fear, confusion, ignorance, insecurity, misinformation, disinformation, and fake news.

Learn to combat ignorance. Learn to empower yourself to be knowledgeable, informative, and useful members of society, contributing to your community and country’s development, growth, and greatness.

You learn because you want to live and be successful in life in your own productive and lawful way. You want to make a difference not only for yourself but also for others, especially for the marginalized, underserved, and less fortunate.

Learn to read. Read to learn. Listen to learn. Watch to learn. Research to learn. Travel, if you can, to learn. Spend your time and treasure wisely to learn besides sleeping or resting or relaxing. Observe to learn something. State and share the facts after learning them. That’s how you empower yourself and others.

Share something you know and do while learning something from someone, from others. When you give of yourself to others, sharing your time and talent, listening to him or her, you learn something, a lesson on giving or sharing (charity) perhaps, or a lesson on love and loving, compassion, kindness and generosity, on being human and humane.

Ignorance is a lack of knowledge or information. Misinformation is incorrect or misleading information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive. Disinformation is the practice of providing information that has been deliberately falsified. 

So, friends and folks, learn as much as you can while you can, while alive, able, and capable. Be a role model to others, your children and grandchildren. And learn to love learning and knowing, for it does help a lot in your physical, mental, social, spiritual, and even political life, that is, if you’re a politician or politically motivated.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at