Our country is facing some serious problems. From high unemployment and Wall Street thievery, to divisive squabbles over social issues like gay rights, immigration reform and abortion, it’s easy to see ourselves as a country at war with itself.

But if you ask me, the biggest problem we face as a nation is our downright pitiful dialogue about these very issues, largely a result of the terrible state of news media in this country.

We are not at war; but the media really wants us to be.

There’s a fantastic line from Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, where main character Mickey (played by Woody Harrelson) is being interviewed from jail by Wayne Gale, an opportunistic journalist played by Robert Downey Jr. He looks him dead in the eye and says simply “The media is like the weather, except it’s man-made.” It’s a quick, seemingly meaningless aside in an otherwise hyper-violent, bat-shit crazy (and brilliant) film, but it undoubtedly rings true.

Like the weather, the media impacts us all; it’s something you can talk about with almost anyone, and has an overwhelming impact on how we engage with the world around us, both individually and collectively.

The media is vital to the success of our democracy. Voters must be accurately informed on the issues they’re voting on and the people they are voting for if we are to make smart decisions as a country. It’s really that simple; get accurately informed on an issue before you take a stance.

Well, it’s not so simple when you have warring factions within the media (liberal vs. conservative, MSNBC vs. Fox News) that not only disagree on solutions to an array of pressing issues, but actually differ on the nature of the problems themselves. In fact, it’s even more complicated when members of the media present themselves as purveyors of “news,” when they’re actually lacing this “fair and balanced” news reporting with their own opinions; annoying, divisive, fear-mongering opinions, to be exact.

We will never solve the problems facing this great nation if we can’t agree on the very nature of the problems we’re facing.

I’m not telling you what to think. And I would never tell you how to feel. All I’m asking is that young people get informed. Look into both sides of an argument. Think for yourself. And most of all; don’t let fear dictate where you stand on the issues. At the end of the day, the lives of real people hang in the balance. Don’t let politicians manipulate you just to save their own asses. Don’t let talking heads with delusions of grandeur infect your mind with historical inaccuracies and ratings-grabbing antics.

I’ll say it again; the only war going on in America right now is one fabricated and perpetuated by a biased, divisive news media.

Don’t be a casualty.