In his 1997 address to the World Bank Conference, Kofi Annan said, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating.” If the last week has taught me anything, it’s that this sentiment is true in virtually all circumstances, from trivial to critical.
Last Friday, men’s social club Chi Sigma Alpha initiated its annual game of Assassins. This is one situation where it definitely pays off to have solid information. In this club-wide activity, each participant is given a secret target to “kill” by shooting him with a rubber band. There are rules, of course. The cafeteria, chapel and Spring Sing rehearsals are considered safe zones; additionally, no one can be killed while at work or in class. To complicate matters further, a kill is only valid if it is witnessed by no more than one other person.
This year is my first time to participate as a queen in the game, and there was quite a learning curve in the beginning. I had to get used to traveling in packs of three or more whenever possible, and I spent significantly more time in the caf during those first three days than I did in the first three weeks of school. It was tricky learning the ropes, but some things are just obvious from the get-go.
It was immediately clear that solid alliances are crucial to surviving this game. Protective alliances, time-sensitive alliances — there are all sorts. Mine happened to be one of the most powerful kinds: an information-sharing alliance. We simply told each other everything we heard: who was targeting who, who had died, what alliances were forming and what alliances were dissolving. Within the first 24 hours of the game, I had already accrued a significant amount of valuable information.
Knowledge is power. In the confines of Assassins, being an informed player means you can make deals with others in exchange for information. You can avoid who needs to be avoided and even protect yourself. Being informed goes a long way.
The power of information doesn’t stop with a goofy rubber band game, though; it goes much deeper than that. Being informed makes us better friends to those who are different. Being informed makes us better voters in a democratic government. Being informed makes us better problem-solvers in a messy and chaotic world.
Being informed makes us better.
It can be tempting to say,“The news is too depressing.I’d rather just not know what’s going on. It makes me mad.” Believe me, I get it. I’ve been there too. But if we don’t know about all the things that need to be fixed, how will we ever do it? No one said being informed was easy — it’s worth the burden.
The information plethora available to us can feel overwhelming, so start small. Turn on tweet alerts for a couple of news outlets. Bring up current issues at your lunch table. Find a good podcast — I suggest “Up First” from NPR. In little ways, we can become better informed.
In little ways, we can become better.
And for those who are curious — I didn’t survive the first week of Assassins. Being informed can help a lot of things, but it couldn’t stop a downright betrayal. I ask for privacy and respect during this emotional time.