What is an informed citizen?
Before ascribing my own view, I would like to gather a few definitions of “informed citizen/citizenry” from around the web:
- purpose of public education; critical for a democracy to have people who are informed about the laws and how to participate in government
- …an informed citizen is having sufficient and sufficiently reliable information or knowledge to be able to understand a subject or situation and make appropriate judgments or decisions regarding it.
- …affirms that you know what’s happening in the world around you.
Now that we have that, let us define the individual words of that ever important phrase, just for comprehensiveness:
Merriam-Webster defines ‘informed’ as having information; educated, knowledgable. Having accurate information is critical and necessary to being informed and one can only be educated and knowledgable if they are informed.
It defines ‘citizen’ as an inhabitant of a city, town or state; especially : one entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman; a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it. So as a citizen of the United States you are entitled to full civil and political rights, and protection by your government.
So, using various similar definitions we can use critical thinking and common sense to reach the conclusion of what an informed citizen actually means. An informed citizen is someone who uses reliable information from multiple sources to understand subjects and situations, thus used to create appropriate judgements to understand their government and more importantly what is happening in the world around them. Simply put, someone who thinks for themselves and strives to fully understand their society and governance on all levels. That doesn’t mean you have to be a lawyer, or a scholar, but it does mean you have to fully understand your rights and the role your government plays in your life, and use that knowledge to draw informed conclusions.