Why Don't More People Know About This?

Image of the Dutch Reformation iconoclasm (Bee...
Image of the Dutch Reformation iconoclasm (Beeldenstorm)  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pick almost an issue of importance to atheists, and you can probably ask some version of "Why don't more people know about this?" The epidemic of child sexual abuse perpetrated by some Catholic clergy and then systematically concealed by the Catholic Church...why don't more people know about this? Bigotry and discrimination against atheists and other groups from prominent Christians...why don't more people know about this? The many destructive effects of Christianity and Islam on the world...why don't more people know about this? You get the point.

The answer to this question is complex. Some people don't know because they don't want to know. They hear the information but willfully disregard it to maintain their faith. They have decided that their faith is too important to let something trivial like reality interfere with it. But I suspect that there are many others who do not fall into this category. They don't know because they haven't been exposed to these things.

As you sit in front of your computer, tablet, or phone reading these words, it probably strikes you as a bit puzzling how many people could go through their lives without being exposed to this information. But remember, most people don't read atheist blogs. Most people aren't seeking this sort of information. And the mainstream news media, at least in the United States, rarely covers this stuff. Most people do not read books about these (or any other) subjects. That being the case, it really shouldn't surprise us that more people do not know about these and other important subjects.

I just caught myself in the act of doing something thoroughly unhelpful in this context. I was at another atheist blog reading about one of these topics. The post dealt with one of these subjects, and I found it very informative. I found myself thinking, "I really wish more people knew about this sort of thing because it would be awfully hard to imagine that some sort of action wouldn't be taken if the word got out." And then I moved on and consumed my time with something else. In that instant, I became part of the problem.

So here is my strategy when I find myself in situations where I see a blog post, a news story, or whatever and end up wondering why more people don't know about it:
  • Communicate something positive to the author in the form of a comment or email. I know the author is likely hearing negative things from people who do not want these subjects addressed. I need to express my appreciation for their willingness to address them.
  • Vote up/like and share the information on social media. I do not own my own 24-hour cable news station, but I do have access to social media. I can use Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit, and StumbleUpon to increase the chances that somebody else will see the content. It takes mere seconds to do so.
  • Depending on the subject and whether I feel like I have something to add, I might write about it myself. This is yet another way to improve the odds that someone else sees it, and linking to the original post or article is another way of showing the author that their work is valued.
  • If the author of the material has ads on his or her site, I might even click some ads. Why would I do that? Again, it is another way of showing that person that their work is valued and trying to help them reap some benefit from what they are doing.
These are just a few of the things I can do to make it more likely that people will know something about the important subjects about which many people remain uninformed.