In today’s day and times, we live in a state of instant information via new technology such as the Internet, news, and social media. On one hand, this is a good thing. Information is at our fingertips and we can get it in an instant. On the other hand, anyone can write or say anything and it gets communicated as the truth. The problem with that is that way too many people will believe whatever they read and/or hear and will not make an effort to research as to whether that information is even true or not. We tend to only believe whatever agrees with our own personal beliefs.
This brings me to the word ‘ignorance.’ According to an on-line dictionary, ignorance means lack of knowledge or information. The synonyms for this word are unawareness of, incomprehension of, informal cluelessness about, and unconsciousness of. We can all be guilty of ignorance at various times in our lives, me included. (To be clear, I am not pointing my fingers to any individuals.)
From the time we are born to the time we die, we are in a constant state of learning. Those teaching us teach based upon their beliefs, their experiences, and from what they were taught. It’s as if their knowledge is genetic, it just gets passed on, and we trust that the information is correct.
The majority of us learn and believe according to our beliefs at the time of whatever it is we learned. I know that may sound confusing, but it’s true nonetheless. For example… In my younger years, I was an extreme fundamentalist and only believed what matched my extreme fundamentalist beliefs. Anyone who didn’t believe or think the way I did was wrong and I totally believed they would go to a place that some call hell. Many hold that belief regardless of whether or not it is associated with religion, politics, cultures, race, and so on. We tend to only believe what resonates with our own personal beliefs.
When I started my spiritual journey, I learned to open my mind to learning all things new. Once I opened my mind, that’s when my spiritual teachings went into hyper-speed. Because I opened myself up to new teachings, God/Universe/Spirit/God of your understanding, was able to teach me so much more than it could if I had continued to keep my beliefs taped up air-tight in a box. I basically took my beliefs out of the box and learned to look at the world through the eyes of love.
When we refuse to open ourselves up to new information just because it doesn’t jive with what we believe, even if that new information is the truth, then that is where ignorance enters the picture. I have seen postings on Facebook, in the media, in letters to the editor of various papers, and so forth, where if the person had done their research from a legitimate source, they would have learned that what they have written was not true, or at least it wasn’t the whole story.
I see ignorance when it comes to writings/communications about Islam/Muslims, gays, undocumented immigrants, our President, politics, the healthcare issue, education, cultures, and so much more. We need to research legitimate sources and not just from people’s personal blogs, personal websites, or other illegitimate sources that may just agree with our beliefs.
Ignorance has been used as a catalyst for propagating so much hate and bigotry. We all have our beliefs and most people are very passionate about their beliefs to the point that they try to force those beliefs on everyone else. But what happened to truth? Is that not important anymore? It is said that the truth will set us free. But whose truth? Most people will say “my truth is the only truth!” But is it? Personally, I base my own truth on unconditional love, kindness, compassion, and oneness, and it is my guide to all other truths. My truths also change as I grow. My truth may not be another person’s truth, and that’s okay. So instead of judging, condemning, and demonizing others because their truth may be different than ours, how about if we respect and honor their truth? Yes, lies need to be revealed, but we can do so without attacking and being mean-spirited about it.
Wayne Dyer stated, “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Marcus Aurelius said, “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” And Leo Tolstoy declared, “Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen February 13, 2015.