Monday, August 02, 2010

Ignorance and Stupidity

None of us enjoy being referred to as “ignorant” or “stupid”. It’s unflattering and annoying. It’s also not necessarily true. There’s a big difference between ignorance and stupidity. Do you know what it is?

I’m ignorant of a lot of things – the precise way nuclear energy is used in a reactor, for example. I’m sure I could learn, but I’ve no interest in know what goes on to make the energy we use here in Central PA from the Three Mile Island reactor any more than having some overwhelming desire to understand how the desktop I’m using right now actually works.

Grandma Esther once asked me if I knew the difference between the two words. Here’s her explanation: “An ig’rant person you can learn; but a stupid person ya jist gotta take back of the barn and shoot ‘em”. I think she was kidding; I’m sure she was; but then again we’re talking about my grandmother and she was a pretty good shot.

The point she was making was that ignorance is nothing about which to be ashamed. It’s correctable. Stupidity we just have to live through and hope not to repeat. We can choose to learn about subjects that we do not understand. We can choose to change our experience. It sounds a lot like Ernest Holmes’ belief of “changing your thinking – change your life”…and it is. Grandma Esther might not have finished eighth grade, but she was wise beyond some I’ve met who have academic recognition.

Feeling ignorant can cause us to feel less than those around us. It can stop us from moving ahead with dreams, goals and plans. It can paralyze our efforts to improve our circumstances. It wasn’t until I returned to college in my forties that my mother, then in her mid-seventies, announced that if I could go back to school then she could, too. She returned to high school, the oldest in her class, and achieved her GED in just a few short months. Seeing herself as a drop-out her entire life had convinced her that she was stupid. She was neither stupid, nor ignorant, as her classes proved. She shined as the student most devoted to study. She discovered, much to her surprise, that her years of living had provided an education far beyond what was required for her to pass her exams.

As for stupidity, well…I don’t recommend Grandma Esther’s suggestion. I do, however, acknowledge that I, along with everyone else, tend to do stupid things from time-to-time. The point is not that we might or will do stupid things, but how we react to that reality. That will be the focus of my next blog, “Frying Bacon in the Nude”. Stay tuned! I’ll be back to you after August 18th when we return from our trip abroad!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Dr. Terry

1 comment:

jayjay917 said...

Frying Bacon in the Nude. Will there be pictures? Thinking of things that get in the way of our dreams and goals. Ignorance to the fact that I could actually make it through grad school. All that math in high school and under grad. Oh who am I kidding even elementary school. I barely got through. Having a good dose of ADD didn't help either in helping me to believe I was smart enough to ever get to college, let alone grad school. Then an illness and relationships held me back as well. The relationships that held me back were pure stupidity.The ilness was beyond my control but then I thought, I may as well try it now. This lady named Kari keeps calling to see if I am still intersted in attending Temple. So I started. I learned that those false beliefs are just that. I also learned that those times when I felt ignorant and even stupid because I did not know as much about some things as others were okay. I now know the difference between those feelings and that of stupidity to think that I couldn't do it. Thanks for the distraction and a momemt to think.