Is ignorance the new norm in government?

February 25, 2017

One cannot watch the nightly news without coming away with the thought that we are trapped somehow in some perverse nightmare where the inmates have indeed taken over the asylum and ignorance and insanity have become the order of the day.

At our state level in Michigan we have leaders with no background or experience making ignorant decisions about the state’s future and tax policies. As one recent editorial put it they appear to have arrived at the capital in a clown car.

At the national level we now have both a Congress and the Presidency ruled by ignorance, arrogance, “alternative facts, and conscientious stupidity who are seemingly intent on destroying the foundation upon which this great country was built – the immigration of people who yearn to be free.

I have collected some quotes that seem appropriate for our current situation…

“Fear the ignorant man more than the lion.” – Turkish proverb

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”  (Confucius)

“War is peace.

Freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is strength.”

― George Orwell, 1984

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”

― Walter Cronkite

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”  ― Harlan Ellison

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, 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.” ― Isaac Asimov

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”  ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Collected Works

“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.”

― George Bernard Shaw, Major Barbara

It can be rather depressing to read through those quotes and consider them in light of our current situation; however, one can lean on one’s faith to get through the day and this time of turmoil. A recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog offered this advice –

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  (Charles Dickens)  Dicken’s, A Tale of Two Cities, describes a situation much like the present in which there are two views of the same world, living side by side.  I have friends who believe we’re now living in the best of times and others who wake up daily to see things getting worse.  The divide between rich and poor widens.  Dickens’ hope is in the death of inequality and a resurrection to a better age, built on the ashes of the old.  There is a God!  Hold on to that hope.  The best is yet to come.  😉  Jack

We may well be witnessing the flames of ignorance creating the ashes of our old world; but the best is yet to come, if we hold on to hope and a belief that there is a God (and maybe get out and vote next time).

Here’s hoping that the best is yet to come.

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Don’t know, don’t say…Don’t be a dwarf

December 8, 2014

Re-blogged from the Jack’s Winning Words blog –

 “To like an individual because he’s black is just as insulting as to dislike him because he isn’t white.”  (e.e. cummings)  Reverse black and white in the quote.  Does it make a difference?  Substitute LGBT and Straight for black and white.  Does it make a difference?  Many of the problems around us these days seem to have root in the fact that we do not see people as people.  You can’t legislate love.  Unless it comes from the heart, the problems will continue.    😉  Jack

I suspect that Leonardo da Vinci put his finger on a big part of the problem that Jack wrote about today when he said – “You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand.”  Too much of the bigotry in the world today is based in ignorance; opinionatedignorance about the backgrounds and perspectives of the people against whom the bigotry is directed. It’s impossible for a white person to understand the impact of the repressive environment that many non-white people feel and experience day-to-day in America. What chance do you have to establish an understanding and appreciation for someone else, if you start from a base of fear because of their color?  

There was a political cartoon in the paper this weekend that captured some of that. It showed a young black person backed up against a wall by a heavily armed white policeman and an average citizen looking out their window at the policeman. Each had a thought bubble above their head with the work “fear” in it. While that cartoon was within the context of recent police shootings; it clearly demonstrates the pre-existing mental context that colors the interactions of many people with each other. That is a pre-existing prejudice that gets things off on the angry accuserwrong foot.  Chris Crutcher, author of Whale Talk, put it well – “…racist (bigoted) thought and action says far more about the person they come from than the person they are directed at.”
Something similar may be said about our notions of the LGBT community. Many censure those in the LBGT community because they do not understand it. Armistead Maupin put it well when he said – “I know I can’t tell you what it’s like to be gay. But I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not hiding behind words, like family and decency and Christianity.”  Having just gone through an election where every homophobic bigot on the ballot chose to hide behind those words, Maupin’s words ring true.

So, one may surmise that bigotry is based upon ignorance; but its real strength is based in
rejectedpreventing the exploration of knowledge about the topic, thereby shutting out the discovery of the truth. Like many other things in life that we fear, because they represent unknowns; fears based upon color or lifestyle evaporate once we know and understand the truth. As E.H.Chapin put it – “Bigotry dwarfs the soul by shutting out the truth.”

Don’t let yourself become a dwarf. Don’t know…don’t say. Go seek the truth.