Ignorance Week Blog - Fall 2020
“I am not ashamed to confess I am ignorant of what I do not know.” - Cicero
Developing respect toward ignorance has been rewarding and life-changing for me. I am increasingly aware of it in myself, which also makes it a lot easier to spot in others. When I was younger, I saw my own ignorance as a deep betrayal to my intelligence, and I would feign knowing something until I could catch up to some actual knowledge around the subject at hand. Ignorance affected my self-esteem - especially if one of my friends knew something that I didn’t know. At 12 years old, I had become a sponge, absorbing everything around me, and feeling like I had my finger on the pulse of every significant thing that happened in my community, and by extent, the world. At that point, there was very little I believed I didn’t know.
I was in the 6th grade when John Lennon was shot and killed. A television was wheeled into our classroom and we watched the fallout. My teacher seemed to take the news as hard as I did, but my classmates had varying reactions and it was the first time I realized that some kids didn’t even know much Beatles music. A few months later, a television was wheeled into the room as we learned that Ronald Reagan had been shot. I didn't know much about him, but we had experienced a palpable rift among the students over the election, and I was holding the Carter supporters separate from the Reagan supporters, refusing to accept their sentiments over the shooting as “real”, probably suggesting that they were lying since they hadn’t supported him in November.
I was a kid who lied a lot to make myself look better to those around me, so it makes sense to me now that I would accuse others of lying for inclusion. There was no real need to lie. People seemed to genuinely like me, even though my massive ego looked down upon those who didn’t know what I knew. Rather than own my ignorance, I supported things I didn’t fully know with false claims. This was also the year I developed a knee injury that would eventually require surgery and the year my broken family began attending regular church services. My lies caught up with me and my ignorance was challenged by people who treated me with love and care. It taught me that ignorance is an opportunity for shame, blame, education and/ or love?
The people and situations of my life in the early 1980’s remain symbols to this day of what I know and what I don’t know. I am grateful to each of my frequent humbling experiences for their lessons, but the year I learned that it was more beneficial to admit my ignorance than put my ego in front of it, was a year that changed the focus of my life from ego-based thinking to the actual consideration of other people's experiences. The ripple effect remains active.
Ignorance: whatcha didn't know or may not remember. I can watch tv and not remember what happened the week before, this way I get to enjoy it twice. One of my favorite songs 'You belong to me' by Carly Simon I didn't know, remember or were ignorant to that the Alto Saxophone player was David Sanborn! He wrote (and won his first Grammy for 'All I Need Is You').
I have had a man crush on him since undergrad days. He's a Leo too (I enjoy their concentrated fire no matter what gender they express). I didn't know that the song I wanted played at a potential wedding of mine (when clearly I was an ignorant Jehovah's Witness) had won him a Grammy. It took the circular route of listening to Carly Simon in the week of Ignorance, reading the YouTube comments about David Sanborn playing sax & my researching, is this true cause how could I have missed that? my favorite Carly Simon song with my favorite alto sax player? And, it was cowritten by Michael McDonald. Suddenly, I felt like the robot in 'Lost in Space'
Too many things I should have known...and, there's a fundamental problem with Ignorance...those effing 'should and shouldn't'. Which mentors placed them there? What music emotionally keeps them here in your subconscious? How does the food you eat keep you stressed so you don't take the time to breathe?
As I write this we are experiencing the conscious abuse of knowledge/ignorance in the Amy Comey Barrett SCOTUS Senate hearings where she won't acknowledge (feigning ignorance) that climate change, peaceful transition of power or segregation are problematic. Original interpretation of the US Constitution is fundamentalism. We be fucked. We need a new Constitution. That I know. It does not belong to me...as it acted as if my ancestors didn't exist, were three fifths of a human. Where did the other two fifths go? Like a broken heart, we are ignorance. Where does the 40% of our people go? If ACB speaks to old white men from 200 years ago from a hand maiden's perspective, she is ignorant and she does not belong to me.