Coming into focus

It’s Dec. 30, and I’ve just returned from a year-end ritual: my eye exam. My eyes have been dilated, throwing my vision off a bit and making me extra photosensitive. On top of that, I left my glasses behind to get new lenses placed into them.

The result? I can barely read my computer screen as I type. My world is out of focus and could be so for two weeks, until my glasses are returned to me with their new lenses.

I apologize in advance for any typos that might creep into this blog as a result.

That said, focus seems as good a theme as any for the end of a year and start of a new one. Have I focused on the right things over the last 12 months? Are my thoughts in focus as I look ahead? Do I see my world clearly or through a filter or lens that distorts? Can I do more to help others see clearly and focus attention where they can do good? Do I see well enough to guide myself and others?

Most Sunday mornings this year, I’ve opened up my house to all comers for a communal reading of newspapers, with an aim to make myself a better informed citizen and encourage my friends to do the same. I call it the Church of the Informed Citizen. It’s not always easy, the state of the world and my country not being what I want. But that’s why I do it; when I most want to bury my head and ignore what’s going on, that’s when I most need to open my eyes and pay attention. We won’t change the world if we don’t acknowledge its faults; ignorance is counterproductive, whether intentional or not.

Nine times out of 10, it’s only my husband and me reading newspapers together in our front room on Sunday mornings. That’s both bad and good — bad because we enjoy the company of our friends and the opportunity to share articles and perspectives with them; good because we get more reading done when it’s just the two of us.

I am better informed, though, because of the Church of the Informed Citizen. I think we both are. And even when only the two of us are present, I’ve realized we’re still reading and sharing as part of a virtual community because we share articles on social media and look through article links while we’re there, thus expanding our reading lists. We are part of a larger village, even when alone together at home.

So the Church of the Informed Citizen will enter another year. I’ll continue being better informed as a result, and I’ll hope to continue encouraging others to do the same. Whether we share the same opinions, politics, or world view, seeing the world more clearly will make us all better citizens. I’ve long held that voting is a solemn responsibility of citizenship in this democracy. But just as important is being informed about the issues and candidates before you cast that ballot.

So join me every Sunday morning at the Church of the Informed Citizen. Whether you’re with me in my home or directing articles to my attention via #ChurchOfInformedCitizen on Twitter, you’ll be sharing in a community that hopes to improve the world by keeping it in clear focus.

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