Ignorance: The Cultural Hand-Me-Down



It’s occurring to me with increasing regularity that a majority of the problems in the world could be resolved with more thorough education.

In one sense I do mean classrooms, rulers, multiplications tables, and paint. That goes an incredibly long way toward developing the general functions of one’s brain.

But I also mean education in a sense of global culture. As children we have a difficult time adapting to the world that adults have created for us over the course of the last few millennia. Thus parents and teachers find it easier simply to instruct us directly how and what to think.

It’s difficult to explain to children why things are the way they are – often we don’t know ourselves. Our combined innocence should not be disregarded. We never received an answer when we questioned these things, before we came to accept them as truths.

And now that we have the opportunity to seek out these answers at any time in cyberspace, we are too overwhelmed by the notion of rediscovering an entire world for ourselves. The sheer amount of reading and comprehension would consume our daily lives to the point of eclipse.

But every time I see photographs of people acting maliciously out of misguided hate, or celebrating out of misguided hope, I can’t help but lament that they weren’t educated more widely about the facts of humanity as a whole.

I believe in solidarity. And I understand that to be in support of one thing you have to be against another. Obviously the conflicts of history are bound to turn some people against each other. It’s our nature – it IS nature.

But I also know that we as homo sapiens have developed something new to nature: Conscience.

We are able to reason, and rationalize. And while this ability is often abused to coerce minds (our own and others) into beliefs that are easier to cope with, or more beneficial to a particular group, it’s glaringly obvious that it could be used differently – to benefit everyone.

A tool, such as human conscience, can be used to create or destroy. It only becomes a weapon when it is wielded hatefully. But hatred is only as relevant as the convictions that it stems from. Often modern conflicts are the offspring of ancient ones. And even those were subject to circumstance – to perspective.

In any case, it occurs to me that a deeper connection with the world through simple *witnessing* (not religious) leads to a more enlightened understanding of our shared human condition. We all have the same needs, same desires, and same hardships regardless of whether we live on a mountain, in a suburb, with a single father, or as a social minority.

Mainstream fiction force-feeds us images of diverse groups finding unity through adversity, and we’ve all probably become somewhat immune to its “hugginess.” But clichés owe their existence to the chords they strike in people; just as stereotypes are perpetuated by their penchant for accuracy.

If we were to *meet* the people we claim to hate, and know everything about –

If we could see the timeline of continued failure in our own government, and ones like it –

If we understood the pain of persecution, and how often such convictions are overturned and regarded with disgust after the simple passage of time –

Then, we would tread more carefully. Question more deeply. Resist more readily.

All of this results from education. From becoming acquainted with the world in its entirety, as it is and has been.

I’m not so naïve as to think that this is a simple desire to fulfill. Even in “rich” Western nations the field of education is in decline as money is re-allocated to maintain support of “structural integrity” (a fiery gripe for another post), but education does not start, or end in schools.

As existentially free creatures we’re responsible for our own educational endeavors. Even if it’s as simple as “stumbling” through Google, every single thing witnessed goes toward a wider scope in our world view.

It’s not even important that it be “academic” or political or cultural… It’s only important that we learn. And share. And remain open (a mind is like a parachute).

The heavier stuff will come. Curiosity grows with practice, like anything else.

Before long you (children, conservatives, citizens, stumble-uponers…) will begin to devour everything. And the most rewarding moment is when it all starts to connect. Everything reminds you of everything else. And despite a literal world of difference between the people and places out there, you begin to understand that they are all related – all equally significant, and imperiled.

Break down your preconceptions.

Nothing is ever as it seems.

Re-discover everything.



2 responses to “Ignorance: The Cultural Hand-Me-Down

  1. It seems that it all comes down to being open to learning, in every sense of the word, and applying what we learn. This post struck a chord with me. Thank you.

    • Absolutely, thanks for reading 😉

      Openness is absolutely crucial to understanding, and understanding is crucial to harmony. I think people too often underestimate the importance of that concept, in every aspect of their lives.

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