Monday, July 08, 2013

quote of the day: Ana on ignorance

'I need you to be aware of your ignorance, because there is nothing shameful about ignorance. It is only by being aware of what you don't know that you can learn how to speak about what you don't know in ways that don't cause harm to others.'
This, from Ana Mardoll, is one of my new favorite quotes.  

In school, I was the kid who sat at the front row, answered all the instructor's questions (yes, I was that annoying kid; sorry about that), and wasn't afraid to ask the stupid-sounding questions of my own.  I relished being wrong, because then I'd get corrected and thus not be wrong about that thing any more.  Learning is neat!

It's bizarre how often pointing out an inaccuracy is seen as an attack.  'No, people of color do not all conform to that stereotype, actually, and it's kind of hurtful to assume they do' == not an attack.  'You're contributing to a subtle culture of misogyny, by the way' == not an attack.  'That statement erases a whole segment of humanity' == not an attack.

These are statements.

There's nothing wrong with ignorance, and getting called on your ignorance is a fantastic opportunity to fix it!  This person is offering to repair a problem, thus allowing you to be more right in the future.

It's particularly interesting to note which subjects have this problem.  I can point out that someone made a sign error and so their calculus is wrong, and they may even thank me.  But when I point out that no, same-sex couples adopting children will not automatically lead to the destruction of the species due to influencing all the children toward Teh Gay (yes, really), I'm way more likely to be met with disdain, disbelief, and even outright hostility.

I feel like this post is kind of rambly, and I need to think more and sort out how I feel about this topic.  But the point is that ignorance is okay.  There's no shame in not knowing.  There's an infinite universe out there of things I don't know.

But there is something shameful about being unwilling to learn anything.  Being unwilling to even try to understand what someone is trying to tell you.  Being unwilling to admit you were wrong.  Being unwilling to care.

Incredible things can happen when one lets go of one's attachment to one's ignorance and misinformation.  I wish more people would give it a try.

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