If someone calls us “ignorant,” our usual response is not kind. That’s because, in its typical modern use, the speaker intended it as an insult.
But is being ignorant, in of its own nature, bad? If one considers the actual meaning of the word, the answer is “No.”
I am ignorant of a ton of stuff.
So are you.
But are you or I flawed, inferior, or evil because of that status?
While being ignorant is certainly undesirable and possibly embarrassing in most situations, it is by no means evil, or a sign of a character flaw.
It simply means – “We don’t know.”
Consider the judge who declares “Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” during a proceeding. The judge is not handing down a reflection on that person’s intellect or moral character. What is being pointed out is that the person does not possess necessary knowledge, or is not properly prepared.
What is, however, an undeniably serious character flaw is “willful ignorance.”
It is hubris in its worst form.
It is the root of all blind allegiances to causes evil and stupid.
I often hear in my circle of acquaintances, “The more I learn, the less I know.”
That saying is attributed to Socrates, Einstein, and everybody in between. But it is absolutely true. As one discovers more about the world around us, it is the most self-evident of all truths. Falling into the false security that one is absolutely right is akin to reaching a mountaintop and screaming “I have done it all,” only to spot the next higher mountain range in the distance.
I certainly don’t claim to know everything.
And anyone who does, has pointed themselves out as a world-class idiot — though you will almost never hear someone so buffoonish to actually declare “I know everything!” It’s usually couched in such phrases as “I know more than…” or “You don’t know anything.”
I am ignorant. So are you.
But it is how we respond to the realization of ignorance that defines us.
Remain open to learning.