While our pastor’s sermon kind of meandered today (good message, but it seemed overly long and somewhat disjointed), there was a portion that caught my attention:
Where there is ignorance, there is often indifference. Where there is indifference, we often see intolerance. And wherever there is intolerance, we will see injustice.
That explains a lot to me about the world. Ignorance remains at the core of so many of our problems. Ignorant Christians, ignorant atheists, ignorant Muslims, ignorant Jews, ignorant agnostics, ignorant pagans…you get the idea.
Now, those who read me regularly might expect me to pick on the members of the Tea Party here in the United States. And certainly, their ignorance is often astounding, as they make people with education seem to be the enemy. Suddenly, to them, knowledge is the problem. God forbid anyone pays attention, or tries to consider complex issues. No, lock-and-load or fly off at the mouth are the ways to go.
But they aren’t alone. I’ve known a ton of ignorant “progressive” people and other liberals. People who say they understand the plight of people who struggle but who distance themselves from such people. They are just as ignorant, because they have some kind of general knowledge or book learning but no connection to the real issues or what needs addressing.
Stay-at-home middle class mothers who knock other mothers’ choices to send their kids to school instead of home schooling, thereby showing complete ignorance of those other mothers’ challenges and lives, which don’t mirror their own and therefore cannot often follow a similar model.
Men who blame women for leaving them and being shallow, while remaining ignorant of their own gender sins and the things they did that helped scuttle the relationship, too. Women who show the very same ignorance as they set unrealistic demands and then dog out their former (or current) men online for not being perfect.
Ignorance is at the heart of ethnic conflict; passive workers who allow themselves to be undercut by corporate interests; corporations who focus on short-term goals at the expense of the country and their own organizational health; teachers and doctors who slap labels on kids like autism or ADHD when they’re just being kids; and so on.
And so, with my pastor’s example in mind, with those four I’s, I now offer my four A’s as a counterpoint. As a healthy alternative. As the path for our salvation, whether secular or religious:
First, we need awareness. Honest, willing efforts to look past the surface of things and challenge our own assumptions about everything.
Second, we need authorship, so that we will be not just show silent accountability but also open assertion of where we fail and where we cease to understand. Such things will lead to us asking for help in increasing our awareness and then our authorship.
Third, with those two things, we will see more acceptance. Always in society, there will be things we cannot accept, but those will be the things that are truly hurtful as a result of cruelty or ignorance. But we will accept that people are different and even when they lead lifestyles that we find uncomfortable, they have a right to be the way they are.
Finally, those three things, if we seek them (and I have no reason to expect that humanity will bother to, but there’s always hope, right?) will lead to the start of ascendancy. This could be secular as easily as it could be spiritual. But it will mean that we are on the path to fully realizing our potential beyond mere self-satisfaction and laziness. We won’t likely become truly ascendant in these our mortal coils, because that’s expecting too much.
But damn it, we need to make an effort to head in that direction.