There is a cult of ignorance, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.
Usually, I let the meme pass without comment.
Not so after the most recent encounter:
Unfortunately, democracy is made up of flawed human beings of varying perspectives, values, and educations. One trauma, one triumph, one challenge, one loss, one gain, one ________ can change our view of the world and of ourselves.
We — an all-encompassing “we” — need not assume that someone’s disagreement with our point of view means they are the ignorant one in the conversation.
Regardless of where we stand on certain issues, we too often think we stand above those with whom we do not agree. That, I think, is one main reason there are such gaping chasms between groups in this country.
Are only those with whom we agree worthy of courtesy?
Are only those we deem our intellectual equals worthy of our respect?
Are only those we consider morally correct worthy of being treated with decency?
We tend to assume we’re the ones with the whole truth, and often do not consider we might be mistaken.
On the other hand, there is absolute truth, and if we have no strength of conviction, we’ll never stand for anything.
There’s a time to hear and understand other points of view, even if we never change our own stance.
There’s a time to examine ourselves and explore other ideas, and then decide whether or not we need to adjust or to remain firm.
Simply because others disagree does not mean we double-down, speak louder, or become aggressive in trying to change their minds.
Maybe we’re the ones who are wrong.
Maybe, in our ignorance, we overlook their intelligence.