“Ignorant.” We tend to throw that word around as an insult. Rather than a simple descriptor of someone’s knowledge (or, more properly, their lack thereof), it is wielded as a club, a disparagement of their character and of a massive failure on their part.
As though they should know. As though they are bad and wrong for not knowing or understanding it.
And with that we relegate them into a hopeless category that deserves scorn or fixing (or both).
Yet we are all ignorant of a great many things.
And, here’s the crux, not everyone has had the fortune of the experiences, information, and reinforcement that it takes to learn something. To become aware of something. To synthesize the myriad of different threads into a rich tapestry of knowledge and understanding. And going beyond understanding into the realm of groking it.
Even the information on its own is not enough; it can take guidance and the proper context and mindsets, aided (and thus can also be hindered) by others along the way.
The way we learn is that we are shown. We follow examples. And when someone makes us aware, and invites us to go deeper, we can learn.*
What matters is to put aside our harsh condemnations and extend that invitation. When we relate to people as a hopeless “other” then there is no opportunity for exchange. When we are willing to listen and lead, then new possibilities can open.
It isn’t easy. It isn’t automatic or guaranteed. It isn’t likely to be instant. And it won’t necessarily be fun. But it can always be a start.
* It is also possible that they do know, or are aware, and continue to espouse a limited or severe view. Again, this may be because they have never been exposed long term to someone who can help expand the view. Either way, it becomes a different conversation than one of teaching, but a conversation that will still be more productive when coming from a place of invitation and exchange than one of scorn or fixing.
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