Saturday, October 31, 2009

The meaning of ignorance

The dictionary defines ignorance thusly:
"The condition of being uneducated, unaware, or uninformed."

This is a common "condition" that can be found in the perspectives of everyone in some way or another. I guarantee that there are some things (most likely obscure and relatively unimportant) I know that you don't. In that one sense, you are more ignorant than me. On the other hand, the more refined our own respective fields of knowledge become, the more subjects there are that you know much more about that I do, making me more ignorant than you.

However, this is a more specific application of the term. If someone was to be called wholly ignorant (of everything), that would imply that they have no education whatsoever, are unaware of what's going on, and aren't informed about anything. In truth, I think there are very few people who fall into this category.

What I'm seeing a lot of though, especially in a climate of high political intensity, emotion, and name-calling, is this term being used as a general insult, applied in a general way over a dispute that is usually about subjects that are much more specific in nature.

It's like another way of calling someone "stupid" but in a slightly more grown-up and politically correct way. It's still intended to have the same kind of sting. Like I said, there are people who are (willingly or unwillingly) very ignorant, but I've come to believe that when the average person calls someone this, all they're really saying is "you don't know the same things I do." News flash. Does that really make a person ignorant in general? I don't think so.

In this case, a good response to this is "ignorant of what?" Get the person to give up their secrets - spill exactly what it is that they know that you don't. Most of the time, all this uncovers is that both people do indeed know things the other doesn't, but that this stems more from a difference of opinions and choice of sources rather than general stupidity.

Two people can both be completely informed, educated, and aware of the stories broadcast by their favorite news network, but if that network has a bias, or the news is inaccurate (which is the case to some degree with every network), then both people will call each other ignorant, simply for following different sources.

For example, global warming and its causes. I'm often annoyed by the scare tactics involved in spreading "awareness" about it, and also the apparent disconnect between this and the previous generation's certainty that we were on the verge of another ice age. But no matter. The point is, I will be the first one to admit that I'm ignorant about many of the sources of this hysteria. I don't know many scientists personally, nor do I spend large amounts of time reading and researching scientific data. I don't know who started this craze (besides Al Gore), who is currently studying it, how many scientists are involved, how many have differing opinions, and how many of these people are really qualified to be making such statements about earth's climate anyway.

Nor am I asking anyone to comment and give me all kinds of data :-P Because that's the point... what I've read about this subject comes from different sources than what many other people read - therefore we're all ignorant. If you're not a scientist doing all of this research yourself, then you're most likely getting any information from second or third-hand sources anyway. I'm also ignorant of many medical conditions. Really, the majority of us are, since very few people are actual physicians, and even physicians don't know everything. Even the "experts" (in any field) must ultimately apply their own interpretation to any data they may find.

There are also "experts" on every side of things. Ever watched a court trial, and seen the experts from both sides give completely opposite interpretations of an autopsy, or other kind of evidence? Who's ignorant? One or both?

Of course, I'm not saying there's an excuse for being willingly ignorant...for refusing to learn or at least hear other sides of things and take other perspectives into account. But I've found that calling someone ignorant just because they have a different opinion than me isn't very smart... it generally means I have three fingers pointing back at myself. The real difference is worldview - I don't believe humans have sole control of the universe, and therefore my views on global warming will automatically be different than someone who believes the opposite. But that doesn't mean I'm ignorant.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The meaning of hate

It's no secret to many people that this world often has (and has had, all throughout history), some very screwed-up definitions of love. I know this partly through observation, but mainly because I've seen seeds of the same misunderstandings in my own heart. True love doesn't just mean reciprocating feelings that others already have for you anyway. Sometimes it means caring about people who don't like you. Real love is not lust, or puppy love, or even emotional affection or casual friendship. But these are all things that the title of "love" is often incorrectly applied to. Using someone else for your own pleasure is not love, and yet it's often labeled by that word.

Most people would readily admit this, because we've all seen examples of it somewhere or other. But one thing that I think is often overlooked is the fact that the word "hate" is sometimes just as misapplied as love. I'm seeing this more and more with the heated political debates, while people take sides on issues and begin applying generalized epithets and political buzzwords to their opponents.

"Hate" is one of these. And I would never dispute the fact that we live in a world with a lot of hatred. Both past and present again provide much proof for our self-centeredness and utter disregard of human life. There is also a good deal of genuine hate in politics. But like I said, this word often becomes just another name for people to apply to their opponents, regardless of the subject matter.

Let me use an illustration. In the movie "V for Vendetta," there is a scene where V breaks into a TV station and airs a message to the people of futuristic London. They are living under a government that rules them by means of fear and injustice, keeping them in submission through regulation and violence. V points this fact out to them, and invites them to join him in standing up to the dictatorship. Once his message is cut off, a regular broadcaster immediately comes on the air and apologizes, explaining that a terrorist had hacked into their system in order to "broadcast a message of hate."

This movie, like most, is fairly manipulative, and audience sympathy is easily shifted away from the government and towards this terrorist and the people he claims to stand for. But that is what makes this scene such an odd contrast - the hero of the movie is aiming to save the people by standing up to the government, and yet his message is labeled as hateful. Clearly in this sense, "hate" is only being used to express disagreement.

But is that what this word really means? I totally agree that there are a lot of people out there who are very hateful, and will use those feelings to destroy others. There are terrorists, yes, but you do not have to be a terrorist to employ hate. This is, however, a very strong word, and I feel that it is often used very inappropriately in political mudslinging. Essentially people are simply aligning their own views along their own idea of "love," and therefore anyone who has any kind of opposition to it must be full of hate. That simply isn't true, anymore than a shallow, lust-based relationship can be called "love."

The word "ignorant" is used much the same way, essentially coming to mean merely "those who don't know the exact same things that I do." But that's a different treatise for a different day.

When it comes to politics, there are many issues that I am for, but there are also many issues that I have no choice but to oppose. Sometimes the government oversteps its bounds (well, a lot of the time actually) and attempts to reassign meaning to things that simply don't mean that. You don't have to agree with me. But don't call me a hater. If you want to assign that word to me, find some evidence for it first, and I'll be willing to talk with you about it - if not, don't just use "hate" to refer to the position opposite to your own. That's a sad misuse of the word, and it cheapens the term when it's applied to instances of actual hate.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009


There are many writers in this world. It's a trait perhaps more common than commonly thought. And I firmly believe that it's a title that should never be applied solely to someone who writes for a living. Writing is a tool, and anyone who employs it effectively as such has the privilege of referring to themselves as a writer - money means nothing.

I came to think about this because I noticed that there are many people who have lives full of activities - meeting people, leadership positions, traveling, etc., and yet keep a blog or journal on the side to record their thoughts and observations all the while. Sometimes I wonder, how do these people have time to write? And I'm not talking about celebrities with ghostwriters or committees to update their facebook statuses. I mean real people with richly useful lives.

But then it occurred to me... really, what other kinds of writers are there? What would writing be without a wealth of experience and observation preceding it? I began to wonder, is there really any other way to be a writer? We can't all be world-travelers and great leaders, but I've come to see writing as not an end unto itself, but a process by which we take in the world around us - people, events, beauty, nature... and turn that into a shared experience to communicate with others. Which is indeed the very definition of communication, like I've spoken of before. Full circle!

Friday, October 9, 2009


It's weird trying to figure out the ripeness level of produce I hardly ever purchase, such as mangoes and avocados. I attempted to make some lassi this weekend - it was a simple recipe, so I thought I'd remember it, but I didn't - it's 2 mangoes, 2 cups of plain yogurt, and 1/4 cup of sugar in the blender. Mine ended up having half the yogurt and sugar. It was actually not bad though... a little tart, but yummy. I had it as a smoothie last night and then ate the rest of it like soup during lunch.

I suppose most fruit is the same - it's best to eat it after it starts feeling a little mushy. Well, apples don't fall into that category, but weird fruits usually do. I hear avocados are better when they're dark. I'm going to attempt to make some guacamole sometime this weekend. I think the avocado ripeness level will be the hardest part.

I found a few recipes for it online, but they're quite varied. Apparently true southern guacamole has to have something like cream cheese in it. I can do that. It also needs cilantro. I'm not adding that the first time I do it, just because I don't even know if I like cilantro. It's one of those things I've heard of, and have probably tasted at some point in my life, but if I had it in anything I wouldn't recognize the flavor.

Ah, the adventure!

Friday, October 2, 2009


I don't know why the big Blogger symbol in the corner has a piece of cake with it - at least on the profile page view it does. Maybe it's the B's birthday or something. That's a pretty long birthday though. I want cake. But I had a klondike bar last night, so I really don't need any.

It's October. For real. I've officially been working in the same place for one year. Only 9 months as a full employee, but still, that's a decent feat. The only other place I can say that about is Fuller's. That was more like 3 years, but it was off & on, and some weeks were slower than others. And I didn't have a computer. I like that aspect of this job.

I went apple-picking a few days ago, and have yet to really do anything with the apples, other than randomly eat a couple of them. I was going to make a pie, but now I'm leaning more towards apple turnovers. I've found a couple recipes online, and a lot of them call for refrigerated biscuit dough. Since I view such substance as a creative cop-out and harbinger of laziness (well okay, I'm just afraid of it because I've never used it before), I'm thinking I can probably do the same recipe if I just make up some of my own biscuit dough beforehand. It doesn't take long, and it can be whole wheat that way. My only concern is that they may be too soft and biscuit-y rather than flaky and/or crispy. But I won't know until I try. So I will. Yay.