Quite often when we learn about something negative and upsetting, we tend to say: “Oh boy… at least I didn’t know that before. Ignorance is bliss.” I agree with Stephen Fry who asked: “If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t there more happy people in the world?”
But it ain’t so… . Ignorance is rather dangerous and embarrassing. Just the fact that you didn’t know you had been fired, or your wife was cheating on you, or you had cancer … that didn’t solve your problem. Now you know it and can start looking for another job, for divorce papers (and STD tests), and for cancer treatment.
Yesterday I came across a tweet by Cecilia Nobre where she vented her frustration for not getting offered an English teaching position due to the sheer fact she is Brazilian – therefore not an English Native speaker. To add insult to injury the ignorant teacher (an oxymoron?) said they were sure she had great qualifications but they were not enough to offset a geographical item: she had not been born in an English speaking nation. Talk about total ignorance! Ok… that teacher will allege it’s their students’ demand… but shouldn’t that be an opportunity to enlighten the students?!
How can we fight ignorance? Socrates in broad terms listed 3 weapons:
Willingness to accept occasional defeat.
Recently I came across this list (https://thepavlovictoday.com/five-steps-preventing-ignorance-told-socrates/) on Ignorance and overcoming it that I would like to share with you:
- Ignorance is inevitable. No matter how much you know … there are millions of things you still don’t know. And that’s ok.
- Continuous learning is key – there’s always more to learn – be active in searching for new learning opportunities.
- Educate rather than criticize – that’s a hard one – we tend to criticize someone as an idiot or worse if they don’t know what we know … rather, share with them what you know.
- Respect the humble underdog – if the person didn’t know something how can you blame them? You were there once.
- You don’t always know what is best for others. Absolutely true. Ever so often someone will tell me that I don’t know what they’re going through and I not even know them to assess their needs. And that’s true. Be humble and accept we are all at different stages of our growth.
- Identify where your knowledge is lacking. Be humble to admit you don’t know much about physiology, for example, or Greek art, or whatever. You don’t need to know everything about everything. Actually it’s impossible to know everything. Leave it to God … he alone can handle omniscience.
At the end of the day, we are called to be humble and accept that some people will never be willing to learn but most others will be open to growth. In that case Knowledge IS a blessing.