Book of Face: Ch 6, Verses 45-35
“Living is easy, with eyes closed” – John Lennon
-the condition of being uneducated, unaware, or uninformed
“All suffering is caused by ignorance.
People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction”
- Dalai Lama XIV
So I’m gonna start by saying that it is my goal in life to be non-judgemental. I have no desire to judge people for their actions or deeds.
Because I don’t know what they know (or don’t know).
People act in certain ways because of the information and the preconceptions that are contained in that lump of tissue we call a brain.
If someone is unaware of the true details of a situation, they will act in ways that are in accord with the limited information that their brain contains.
This is what we call ignorance.
And the truth is we cannot blame the ignorant because ignorance is easy. Ignorance is bliss.
That being said,
Ignorance is NOT ok.
“Love the sinner, Hate the sin.” – Ghandi
We currently live in a world were the near entirety of human knowledge is available in the palms of our hands.
We can ask the all-knowing, all-seeing Google (or other search engine, such as DuckDuckGo), any question that our heart desires.
“Will the congregation please open their books to ‘The Prayer of Knowledge.’”
“Oh divine and benevolent Google, please grant to us, in thine all-knowing wisdom, the answers to the queries which we do seek,
So that we may be enlightened in your knowledge, your wisdom, and your glory, until the end of days (or failure of your server).
So that you may remove the veil or ignorance from our eyes, and grant upon us the light of knowledge.
So that we may be raised up from the pit of the ignorant, to the heights of the enlightened.
We ask in thy name,
“Oh all-mighty Google, wherest doth one find ‘the best way to cook a turkey in under one hour’?”
“Oh merciful Google, where shalt I find the answer to my query, ‘best anti-aging creams for under twenty dollars’?”
“Oh Google, where doth one find ‘free downloads for Grey’s Anatomy season 3 episode 6′?”
“Oh Google, showeth to me ‘the ugliest outfits at wal-mart’”
“Oh enlightened and all-knowing Google, where shall be found the answer to my prayers for ‘porn’?”
“We ask in thy divine wisdom and glory,
“You may now be seated.”
The fact of the matter is that in the past it was easy to forgive ignorance.
People did not have the same access to information that we currently have.
Most of the population was illiterate, uneducated, and did not have access to books, movies, podcasts, or any of the information sources that we now take for granted.
The internet has changed that.
The excuses for ignorance are vanishing.
For instance, when someone says to me “I don’t vote.”
I ask why.
“I don’t know anything about politics, about the parties, about their platforms.”
Meanwhile their showing me the latest pictures of girls in yoga pants on the chive. It becomes hard for me not to slap them in their face.
Right in their face.
But I refrain.
The internet is a tool.
As are the devices that connect to it, like those damn smart-phones that everyone stares at during social encounters.
“Hello, I’m right here, please stop looking at instagram photos of your ‘friend’s’ lunch.”
They are powerful tools and we need to start treating them as such.
These devices are not just time-waster entertainment machines.
They are access points to the repository of the near-entirety of human knowledge.
We should keep this in mind.
Now I’m not saying that there isn’t a time and place for entertainment.
What I am saying is that’s not all the time.
Try and use them to educate yourself as well as entertain.
Or better yet, be entertained by becoming educated.
Enjoy the feeling of learning something new (and I don’t just mean learn every movie that Edward Norton has appeared in).
Learn about the founding of the city in which you live.
Learn about how vinyl records are made.
Learn about why the sky is blue, and the grass is green.
Learn about where babies come from (not porn).
Learn about quantum string theory.
Learn about the history of Venice.
Learn about Ghandi.
Learn about animals.
Learn about plants.
Learn how to tie a clove hitch knot.
Learn how to make roti.
Learn how to play an instrument.
Learn about alternative fuel sources.
Learn about the wonders of hemp.
Learn about politics, how it works, and what party has a policy that most resembles your own beliefs.
Learn how beer is made, and what the difference is between a lager and an ale.
Learn what a chakra is.
“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”
- Benjamin Franklin
Think of how impressed everyone will be when you can spout off interesting facts about whatever topic interests you, right off the top of your head.
Sure they could just look that stuff up on their smart phone. But you and I both know they’re far too busy looking at cute pictures of kittens to do that.
It seems that there is a misconception that we learn in school, and then we never learn again.
Don’t fall prey to this.
Because the time of ignorance is fleeting.
And you don’t want to be “that guy.”
The Time is Now.
We are living in one of the most interesting and profound moments of human existence.
The World is literally in the palm of our hand.
Don’t take these things for granted.
Don’t remain ignorant.
We don’t have time for that.
“Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
The world lies upon the razors edge.
We are so close to the destruction of the ecosystems that sustain us.
We are close to destroying the delicate balance of this planet.
We are close to nuclear destruction of ourselves.
We are close to the removal of our freedoms and the subjugation of the working class.
I know this sounds like “doom and gloom” prophecy.
But it isn’t.
It’s merely a warning.
A warning of what could happen if we do not act.
And when I say we, I mean you and me.
It’s about each of us empowering ourselves.
Freeing ourselves from the cycle of ignorance.
From the lie that is the “status quo.”
The world is changing, and it is up to us to decide what shape the future will take.
We are deciding every minute of every day.
With every action we take, we are shaping the world.
We are not observers on this planet.
We are an integral part of it.
Each of us.
I understand the feeling of not believing that.
I felt that way.
I saw myself as just another victim.
Another cog in the wheel.
Incapable of affecting change upon the world around me.
We’ve been told that for so long.
“You are consumer, you must buy. And you must do as you are told.”
You are the product.
You are what the world creates.
You are not just an animal, subject to momentary desires and irrational impulses.
You are capable of reason, of abstract thought.
You can create art.
You can make music.
You can speak.
You can understand.
You are the product.
So what have we produced?
What has tens of thousands of years of human development created?
What are you?
Are you just a pre-programmed worker drone?
A biological robot capable only of accumulating resources?
Or are you something more?
A being capable of creation.
Of thought? Of wisdom?
Be what you were meant to be.
I see the potential in you.
I hope you can see it to.
So what do we do about ignorance?
Well the answer has two parts.
Stop being ignorant.
Educate yourself. Learn the true nature of the situation.
Don’t just buy what you’ve been told, and don’t believe the first thing you hear.
Think critically. Find multiple sources for your information.
And don’t just write things off out of hand because it doesn’t conform to your current world view.
Our views of the world can. will. and should change.
Mine did. I was once ignorant. And in many ways I still am. We are human, and we make mistakes.
Listen to other viewpoints. And I mean “listen.”
Don’t just sit there waiting for your turn to speak.
You will be surprised at the enlightening conversations you can have in the most random places with the most random people.
Be open to new ideas.
Use reason when thinking about new ideas.
Be aware of how your preconceptions are affecting the information you are taking in.
You’ll be amazed at how often an illogical preconception will prevent you from learning something new.
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
- Pema Chödrön
Stop letting other people be ignorant.
Ok I know, easier said than done.
And all those ignorant people enjoy the same freedom of speech that we do.
You can’t shut them up. You can force them to change their mind (not without some sort of mind control elixir, and that ain’t right).
So what does one do?
You enlighten them.
Don’t fall into petty arguments. Don’t resort to name calling. Don’t let them make you mad.
Calmly and politely state your case in a matter of fact way.
Don’t be judgemental of their ignorance, their circumstances are not yours.
They may not have the same information you have, or their preconceptions may just be preventing them from acknowledging your point.
Try to see why they believe what they believe.
Take racist people for instance (believe it or not in the 21st century there are still racists, amazing I know).
Why do they feel a sense of superiority to another race?
One reason is that they probably have very few dealings with people from other ethnic groups.
Another is that they are under the impression that their culture is the only one or the superior one.
They negate to understand that it is culture and language that separate us, not genetics.
That someone of a different racial group would act the same as they did if they had the same upbringing and traditions.
It’s a viewpoint bred from ignorance. And although we can understand why they think this way, it cannot be allowed to go on unchecked.
Quite often when dealing with the ignorant in society, our arguments will go nowhere (or appear to).
They will block out your viewpoint as wrong. Plug their ears and continue on their merry way.
Do not lose hope.
Change does not occur overnight. Or in a single conversation (usually).
It takes time, repetition and experience to change hearts and minds.
Although they may leave the current situation as seemingly ignorant as before, it’s just a matter of time before reason breaks through.
If each of us stands up for what we know is right and works to correct ignorance, in time we will prevail.
Eventually after hearing the error of an ingrained set of incorrect beliefs, one cannot help but question them.
“Hmm… maybe they’re onto something here, I’ve been hearing that a lot, from a lot of different people, and it’s pretty reasonable when you really look at it.”
And if there are those individuals who will simply not see there error of their ways, we will leave them behind.
As I said, the world is changing. If ignorant people choose to remain ignorant as the rest change, eventually they will be the minority.
They will no longer have the voice of a group, it will be an ignorant person standing alone.
“The cheese stands alone.”
“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion.
No one is entitled to be ignorant.”
― Harlan Ellison
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
- Nicholas Klein
So my friends,
remember to always learn, always think critically, and do not remain silent in the face of ignorance.
The world needs us.
and may your voice find power in your enlightenment.