I am shocked that someone who is educated could be so misinformed. Though, I do try to keep myself informed, so maybe it's that I'm informed but uneducated. Maybe it's both. At any rate, today I was informed, or educated, about how I don't know shit. It was simultaneously the most interesting and most depressing class of my life.
A professor from the University I am currently studying with gave a lecture on the Franco regime in Spain and the transitional period from 1975-1981. I, of course, know who Franco was, but that's about it. As I listened to the lecture, I was shocked at my own lack of information on the subject. And it's an important subject. Many commentators and intellectuals consider the transitional period from Franco's regime to a republic to be an example of how it's done, more or less. It was done peacefully, with only a few bumps in the road. In fact, the one coup d'etat after Franco's death, in 1981, lasted about 18 hours with no casualties of any kind. Not to shabby for a transition.
The professor talked about the creation of a new Constitution and some of the compromises that had to be made, like the Amnesty Act of 1977. It was fascinating to hear how a dictatorship was shed and replaced with democracy. After Franco's death, his regime was sort of de facto over, even though there was the Law of Succession to the Head of State of 1947 and Franco had handpicked Juan Carlos to be the King of Spain.
Anyway, Spanish history isn't the point. The point is that I didn't know any of that, and it's important. Currently, the situations in Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt are looking to the Spanish transition to help transition their governments to one of a more democratic shade. Yemen and Syria are also following in Tunisia's footsteps and possibly Spain's. Being informed about these kinds of happenings in the world and what it means for the future is absolutely imperative. Not only are we an international community, but it's important to be appraised of the political atmosphere in other countries to be aware of how it might affect our country and, in some cases, how we might want to effect the same kind of change ourselves. If we aren't aware of these kinds of things, not only are we uninformed but we are missing an opportunity to learn. How can we ever make anything better if we never take the opportunity to learn from a situation, a place, a person, or ideology that's different from our own?