DEFEATING IGNORANCE

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

IGNORANCE IS BLISS

We can frame ignorance in the classic sense and call it a lack of knowledge or information. We see this form of ignorance all the time. In fact, some of us even judge this lack of understanding in a rare form hazing prevalent in video game circuits and workplaces.

“He’s such a noob.”

“Great job new boot, now we all get to scrub the tile floor with toothbrushes.”

“I remember my first beer.”

People make uninformed decisions all the time. Luckily, experience is it’s own teacher and many of us learn from our mistakes. Sure, some people decide to stay in a place of ignorance and never take the time to learn about the things that bother them, but most of us grow.

Sometimes ignorance takes the form of outright foolishness. So many of us carry on like these self-stylized masters of the Universe who aren’t reliant on anyone for anything. It’s easy enough to pretend we’re independent, especially now. I mean, we have all the single serving accommodations necessary to make us feel as if we are an island all to ourselves.

We can cruise down the street in our sports cars blaring our music and drown out any living thing we come in contact with. Cars are fun. They wrap us in a cocoon and allow us to feel safe enough to let our lower selves take the wheel; no pun intended. Go ahead, cut that guy off. He probably deserves it, I mean, look at that Ford. Uh-oh homeless guy at 10 o’clock, better fiddle with the radio nobs and not make eye contact.

All this narcissistic behavior stems from this “I don’t need you” mentality we’ve bread into ourselves. When you honestly believe that being an educated, working class citizen makes you a good person- and people are good, we just aren’t better than the next- it’s easy to disconnect from the rest of society and put blinders on. Well, my family is provided for.

So roll that window up, ignore that homeless guy. What if he was a factory worker that manufactured the very car you’re sitting in before the industry crashed? How many factories closed down and left thousands of work when that happened? Could they be one of them? Would that change your opinion? If they’d had a hand in providing the very vehicle you use to run your daughter to piano lessons, or your son to soccer practice would you be so quick to write them off?

We step over those guys when we see them downtown. It’s a natural reaction for some. However, this stems from a place of ignorance. Our mind projects back stories on the homeless without even asking how they ended up on the streets. We forget that they aren’t necessarily the drug addict fiendish types we paint them out to be.

I used to do it all the time and I’m an ex-convict who disregarded every law society wrote. Who am I to judge? But that’s the catch isn’t it, ignorance knows no bounds. What I’ve learned about myself is that I tend to feed into these “backstories” to comfort any feelings of guilt I have at being repulsed by the smell, or look of that facet of society. Yet, in that same breath I get angry when a beat cop, noting the tension in my shoulders that all convicts carry, keeps an eye on me. How dare he do his job and monitor potential threats to the public. I’m not a threat.

So where is my ignorance coming from? How can I overcome this foolishness? By awakening to the truth of course.

THE FACT OF THE MATTER

We are not fiercely independent creatures with no need for others. Beyond the fact that we are social animals who need affection and love we also developed these massive urban jungles to make our lives easier. We gather in packs to ease the burden of life itself. Our rural communities produce food that our epicenters consume. Every facet of our society is a necessary cog in the machine.

Machine. Let’s run with that word and flesh out the truth a bit. In your hand, or on your desk, is an electronic device. Not only are my thoughts of interconnectedness being shared with you via this medium the lesson of it all is contained right there. Note the material of said device. How many people do you think it took to mine the ore and refine the metal. What of the plastic that was manufactured in a factory. Factor in the design team and the sales force that pitched the item.

What country took those plans and those raw materials and arranged them? Okay then. Add dock workers, ship captains, customs agents, truck drivers and sales reps at your local electronics store to the list. It takes hundreds of people to put an electronic device, or most products for that matter, into our hands. So this idea that we’re these self-governing free spirits is based on a false pretense.

Without cooperation of others my life would be unmanageable. I wouldn’t have a laptop if other people didn’t design and manufacture the device I’m using. Without readers interested in spiritual principles there would be no one for me to ramble to.

This blog feeds my desire to help others. It helps me bring balance to my life by sharing the lessons that have impacted me thus creating the opportunity to pay it forward. It’s what the Dalai Llama calls being wisely selfish. By treating everyone with dignity and respect you will naturally receive more dignity and respect from others. If you allow anger and hostility to consume you others will add fuel to the fire and greet you in kind.

When the covid smoke clears I recommend volunteer work at homeless shelters for anyone interested in compassion. It’s odd how helping the less fortunate can make our problems seem small. There’s something about real desperation that makes our petty quarrels irrelevant.

So start where you are. Drop a kind word on someones social media status, or shoot a meme to your coworkers; I’m certain everyone could use a good laugh right about now. You don’t have to make huge waves of differences, little ripples in the pond are just as important.

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