Ignorance

Ignorance is preventing society from moving forward socially and politically. The definition of ignorance is simply having a lack of knowledge, but the connotations of the word vary. A fellow journalist such as me, Angelina Cordone, explained her definition of ignorance:“Ignorance is thinking you know everything when really, you know nothing”. The way I describe ignorance is not understanding something and not wanting to understand said “thing”. The term ignorance is thrown at anti-intellectuals to demean and discredit their beliefs, but at the same time, these people spewing out ”ignorant” at everyone they disagree with, are ignorant.

 The failure of people to understand or be aware of other humans’ cultures and beliefs is slowly driving a bigger wedge between political and social groups, effectively preventing the society that you and I live in to progress and solve issues that could be otherwise concluded. For instance, right now there is not much being done about gun safety issues due to the polarized sides (liberal and conservative) arguing for the complete wrongness of their enemies as well as the complete rightness of their cause (i.e “ban all guns” and “keep all guns”). But then there are those in between on the whole problem. Maybe they think that taking away all guns is a bad idea, maybe letting everyone have certain types of guns is not ok, but these people, sadly, are overshadowed by these “Conservative Gods” and “Liberal Kings”. 

I myself am not free of ignorant thought; I am in fact very self-centered[1] and generally close-minded about specific social issues. Sometimes, however, I find myself being ignorant of certain things that I am unwilling to try or learn about. One example of this is my experience with the new wave of rappers, like XXXTentacion: a rapper I have included in at least two of my articles—for the sake of appealing[2] to the thousands of readers on Peakstudentmedia—but never really listened to because I think his lyrics are absolute trash. This ignorance simply stems from my inability to understand why people like this kind of music because it is something I do not, myself, enjoy. My negative opinions on modern rappers seems to be solidifying, especially when I hear some of the kids in the back of my bus blasting the rap “sensation” BhadBhabie[3]. I am ignorant of some racial issues, especially when it comes to the use of the n-word, but that does not stop me from trying[4]. I am ignorant about certain parts of the LGBTQQIP2SAA community, and while I do support them, there are certain identities being presented that make little to no sense to me. In fact, some of these identities are being disregarded by some members of the “all-loving” LGBT community as well.

The LGBT community has always faced ignorance; when it was just a little baby they were decried by religious fanatics, and even nowin the modern day—the ignorance is there, but now at least there seem to be more supporters than “decriers”. Most devout Christians[5] are opposed to LGBT groups (or at least homosexuals) because they were taught to do so all their lives. These Christians, sometimes, will not even consider what these communities have to say because it goes against God’s beliefs, all while labeling those who disagree as “sinners”, and in doing so, they dehumanize these people by inferring they are “unclean” and “impure” beings. Because of this, they also expose the ignorant side to their “all-loving” beliefs[6]: ignorant to the fact that these people do not choose to be homosexual, to the fact that these people just want to live happy lives that will most likely not affect you in the slightest, and how some[7] are being oppressed on a regular basis. But at the same time, these communities that have faced ignorance, can themselves be ignorant.

To better explain this, we must first look at one of the most common rhetorical strategies implored by political communities. The most common rhetorical strategy seems to be very aggressive “terming” of anti-intellectuals, calling them homophobes, fascists, bigots, or in the case of right-leaning groups, “libtards”, snowflakes, SJW, etc[8]. This type of rhetorical strategy—bully those who are “ignorant” until they stop disagreeing—itself is ignorant and at the same time, in the eyes of the “intellectual”, dehumanizes the anti-intellectual. This dehumanization shows just how ignorant some—if not all—political groups are because when someone is labeled with one of these terms they have all individualism stripped away and the person becomes—in the mind of the labeler—all the stereotypes that come with it. For instance, when someone gets called a snowflake, they are immediately thought of as a person who can easily melt[9] (be offended). The LGBT themselves tend to stereotype Christians as a whole, sometimes assuming that a Christian they meet will be anti-LGBT when in reality, many modern day Christians are not anti-LGBT. Another effect of dehumanizing these Christians is an increased divide in cultures. When there are such great divides in cultures, paired with the inability to have meaningful conversations with anti-intellects we have already labeled and therefore dehumanized, we cannot progress as a society because, when someone is dehumanized, their opinion becomes almost meaningless to the person labeling them.

This loss of respect has lead to what feels like an uprising in political violence (throwing a punch at a rally), but perhaps this is just the effect of the internet allowing me to view all of these instances. But if that is not true, these violent outbursts are becoming more and more common because nowadays, when we understand that the now acceptable political groups/beliefs are either left-leaning or right-leaning and how this is mixed with the ignorance of each side towards the other side, there is a produced mindset, a mindset incapable of having non-violent, meaningful, and intellectual conversations due to the true nature of the mindset: “You’re wrong and I’m right. If you don’t agree with me, I will label you an ignorant fascist.” Or “If you don’t agree with me, I will label you “ignorant” and a ‘libtard’ ”.

 Interestingly enough, some people have begun to think that conservatives/religious folk have come under fire more than left-leaning groups. A (very right-leaning) YouTube content creator by the name of Hunter Avallone stated that “In today’s society, it’s harder to come out as conservative than gay”, and while I do not necessarily agree with what he said, I do find some truth to it. Those who express anti-liberal views are (seemingly) more likely to catch flak for it than someone who expresses pro-liberal views. Take for instance the tearing down of the BLM mural at AHS. Destroying artwork because you do not like it is irrational and very ignorant, but the student who tore it down was not the only one being ignorant. After overhearing[10] a discussion between a group of students about the mural being torn down, one (white) person said that they “[felt] uncomfortable” because of the mural, and in keeping with the most commonly implored rhetorical strategy, they were labeled a racist, immediately demonizing them and blowing a simple statement out of proportion. This kind of instant labeling and demonizing is preventing people from having meaningful and intellectual conversations, the same ones that have the ability to decrease someone’s ignorance and allow for those people to progress past a social issue by finding common ground. When someone is constantly labeled they may feel alienated and will can possibly develop hatred for those groups. On the the other hand, this may be true and they could be racist, but it still proves the point that conservatives tend to have a tougher time expressing their beliefs without facing outrage from their peers[11].

However, ignorance is not specific to politics and happens daily in common situations. Take for instance that smelly kid with greasy hair that inevitably ends up being sat next to you by the tyrant you call Teacher. Perhaps that kid is ignorant to the fact that he smells bad, or maybe he is unable to shower, or maybe he is unable to afford quality deodorant and perfume that you find so easily accessible. I am by no means saying ask the kid “why do you smell bad” but it is important to consider these things, especially if you live a prosperous life. It is important because when you do not, it becomes hard to ground yourself and understand that people live different lives, and have different opinions that do not make them any less human than you. If we as students, as workers, as Americans can understand this, we will be able to make a bigger, more impactful push for equality.


[1] Calling something self-centered is almost always pejorative. It is insulting to tell someone that they are self-centered, but I do not understand why. We are all self-centered, that is the “default setting” of our brain (“This is Water” – David Foster Wallace). For instance, when you are walking down the halls and some kid is walking slowly and texting, they are in your way, they are the annoying one, they are the one disrupting the world, your world. But if you consider some of the things they are could be going through—they have to text their mom about funeral plans for their dad,or maybe they are texting important instructions to give medicine to a family member with the flu—and now you are the annoying one, you are the one who is disrupting their world. And yes, these situations are very unlikely (although not impossible), but the premise behind this kind of open thought is important, openness, willingness to learn, to understand, to not lead our lives dancing in the beautiful field of ignorance because, ignorance is bliss, not having to think these uncomfortable, miserable thoughts and not having to think for ourselves is the ultimate peace but not the ultimate freedom.Thinking hurts, it truly does, the more we think, the more anxious we become, the more anxious we become, the more depressed we become. But this turmoil is true freedom, freedom to understand, to be open to other people’s opinions and thoughts, freedom to perceive the world in a different light than the one you have subconsciously built up. However, I understand that in many situations it is hard to want to understand someone else’s thoughts, maybe this footnote struck a nerve and it makes you uncomfortable, maybe you think I am absolutely “off my rocker”, but either way, this should not deter you from abandoning this self-centered existence that you are (most likely) stuck in, because when you are free from this self-centeredness, you immediately have the ability to be more empathetic, accepting and intelligent, traits that are supposedly important to many communities that still have such shuttered minds towards anti-intellectuals or people they just do not like. True education and true intellect are being able to break free from this choke-hold mindset because being able to humanize even the most “foul of beasts blocking my way to my next classroom,” takes you back down to Earth and makes you understand that everyone is going through some sort of struggle one way or another, whether their struggle be deemed more or less important than yours is for you to decide.

To end off this “beautiful” footnote, I would like to say just one last thing: this is how I want society to work, this is my vision, my dream of furthering progress on social issues. I am not trying to tell you how to live your life, I am not trying to give you moral advice, I am just trying to explain how I try to see the world and what the effects could be. Now, back to the text!

[2] After suggesting an article idea to the person who approves the school newspaper article ideas, they responded to me saying, “I’m not gonna say no, but who’s that gonna appeal to kid”, despite the fact that nobody—save the occasional friend (thanks Bella!)—reads my articles. [Back to text]

[3] I am not even kidding.

[4] At one point, I had a legitimate conversation with a friend about this issue, and while they did a fantastic job explaining to me the cruel and barbarous usage of the word, I am still in between on this issue. In fact, the usage of the n-word is quite strange in the modern day because on one hand it can be one of the worst things to say to someone (when ending it with “er”), and on the other, it can be a term used to address a friend (when ending it with “a”). The word also brings about a very evident double standard wherein white people face more backlash than any other person of color saying it (like Cardi B). A more recent example of this double standard was when a caucasian female was picked from the crowd to go up on stage and rap along with Lamar, and all was going great, until she said the n-word. The crowd was booing, Lamar had stopped the music, telling the girl that she had to “bleep one word”.

In some close friend groups, white people are aloud call their black friends the n-word. However, a problem that seems to arise in situations like this—where white people become more comfortable with the word—is that they begin to forget that, this is not an appropriate word for them to say, this is not a word that they can identify with or experience in a pejorative way and therefore should not use. People tend to fear what they cannot understand and while I do not think white people are living in fear of the n-word, it does seem to anger (some of) them because whether you agree with me or not, white people have been taught history, history where their ancestors were able to take what they want, have what they want. We have been taught about manifest destiny, our relationship with the Native Americans, Africans, etc, and when we are told that we cannot say a word, especially one so abundant in the hip-hop scene, it angers us because, why should I not be able to sing along with a rap song? Why should I not be aloud to say this word? And they have a point. Why should there be race exclusive words? If black people hate racism so much why do they continue to instigate drama through using race-based words? Why is it so hard for white people to just not say the n-word? Is this really the topic that needs to be discussed?

The n-word is a very complex issue in America and I am probably not the most qualified to write about this because I am a white man, so please take what I say with a grain of salt. I do not want to tell you how to live your life, but I encourage you to try to live your life without saying the n-word in any form, whether you are friendly or angry, black or white, because if nobody said the word, there would not be these instances of the “wrong people” using it and, in effect, this will aid with the splintering of the cultural wedge that has been drivin between these two groups ever since the dawn of America. [Back to text]

[5] I do not want to generalize devout Christians here, but through my gathering of online information, the majority of Christians who say they are devout, are homophobic (or at least anti-LGBT). This does not mean that all devout Christians are homophobic, and this does not mean all non-Christians cannot be homophobic. But on the other hand, I also do not want to generalize the LGBT community. But again, through my participation in events (i.e Pride in Raleigh), and internet combing, I have found that many members of my community are distrusting of Christians as well as non-LGBT members (especially heterosexual cis-gender white men, hence the phrase “straight cis white man” being commonly used in a pejorative way). I do not believe all or even most of the LGBT community members are anti-Christianbut I also believe that many of them are, whether consciously or subconsciously.  [Back to text]

[6] I am not fully educated on Christian beliefs but at one point I got into a discussion about the existence of God and roughly three days after the talk, the girl I was talking to came up to me with a four page essay about God, giving responses to what I said. [Back to text]

[7] But not all, and that seems to be something that some members of my community have forgotten. Someone misgendering someone is not always [gender]phobic, someone assuming someone’s sexuality, although annoying, is not always [sexuality]phobic. [Back to text]

[8] Both sets of insults are used exaggeratingly by the media and in affect, the people. [Back to text]

[9] Fun fact: Bone ash (mineral residue of bones) melts at roughly 2517 degrees Fahrenheit. [Back to text] 

[10] *Eavesdropping on* [Back to text]

[11] What Stewart did was almost indisputably wrong, and I am in no way defending his actions. I am just proving a point. [Back to text]

One comment

  • That Angelina Cordone kid sounds like an Allstar. She must have incredible parents. As an adult I’ve found that if you focus on your personal physical, and mental well being, you’ll feel less of a need to express negative opinions about the life choices of other people.

    Like

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