Are you ignorant?

Chances are you would be offended if someone would ask you that to your face.

I would be too.

It’s somehow shameful to not know. It’s frowned upon. Not socially acceptable.

I will however say this:

I was ignorant, I am ignorant and I will be ignorant.

Unless you’re an omniscient entity, you are ignorant.

No matter how much I learn, how much I’m willing to learn, the sum of what I don’t know will outweigh my accumulated knowledge until the day I die.

Albert Einstein once said “The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know”.

This fact of life, instead of being celebrated, causes anguish and fear in most people.

Are you one of them?

How hard is it for you to simply say “I don’t know”?

Why is it so difficult?

I think it comes down to being afraid of being devalued. In many ways it is similar to admitting that you’re poor.

Rightly so, besides what you own, what do you think people judge you on?

To make matters worse, we are led to believe that the two are linked.

The richer you are, the more likely you are to have a higher education. On the flip side, the more you know, better are your chances of getting rich.

That’s the general schema people adhere to.

When you see the world and yourself through this lens, it can be hard or even impossible to not only admit to others but to yourself : “I don’t know”.

Ironically, the first step in learning anything is accepting that you don’t know and having the willingness to either take in the new information presented to you, or seek it out.

What if I told you that there is a way to save lives and the environment?

Would you wish to know more?

The short and reasonable answer would be yes.

However, nearly everyone will say no once they get where I am going with this.

The truth is, we all don’t want to take in new information that either

a) confronts our already established beliefs

b) confronts our comfort

c) confronts our embarrassing lack of knowledge

d) all of the above

I’m guilty of this. I have absolutely no interest in learning how to play guitar.

a) I think that I will suck at it

b) I’d rather read a good book instead of practicing

c) I’m embarrassed by my poor coordination and tone deafness

I can’t help it but hope things would be different by adding dramatic facts. A knowledge that “saves lives”, “the environment” and so on, is still not impervious to willful ignorance.

We choose to not know more about many topics. I have no problem with that. Frankly, I think it’s a waste of time to try to learn everything under the sun.

That is unless someone’s and everyone’s livelihood depends on it.

In that scenario, what would you chose?

I can tell you what I chose for years.

I was the one who would never watch slaughterhouses footage.

I believed that cows were different from other animals and they just produced milk without having babies.

I thought leather was a special material only found in some places and that was what made it expensive. (I had no idea it came from animals)

I purposefully didn’t seek out knowledge about all these things. To be honest, I didn’t even think for one second that it was a possibility. You know, looking up stuff, learning about the milk I drank everyday, the meat I had on my plate or the shoes I wore everyday.

Nobody told me it was something that I should learn. Instead I only heard the opposite consensus, everyone thinks it’s something that they shouldn’t know.

It is our human lot to be ignorant.

It is our human responsibility to not be willfully so.

*Credit: rstrawser Creative Commons 2.0



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