I hate the word “ignorant”.
As I understand it, the word should refer to someone who lacks knowledge or understanding about a particular, or various, subjects; however, the way I hear the word most often is when it refers to someone who has a different opinion than the one who uses the word.
“Anyone who says that homosexuality is wrong is ignorant.”
“Anyone who denies the existence of God must be ignorant.”
“The election proves how many ignorant people live in this country.”
The list could go on forever. The reality is that no matter what you believe about something or no matter how well informed you are about a subject — there are people who would quickly label you ignorant just because they disagree with your stance on that subject.
The problem seems to be that no one listens to each other anymore. We have our views and opinions and instead of listening to what other people have to say, we straw man other people’s arguments and then call them ignorant. We very rarely hear opposing views the way they are presented, instead, we look at our opponents worst arguments and laugh about how foolish those who believe such things are.
Sometimes, it seems like everyone (including myself) believes that we are geniuses among the ignorant. “If only everyone had seen the world the way I have, then everyone would agree that I am right.”
It’s rather insulting when you think about it.
But we see and hear this all of the time, don’t we? I see this in the homosexuality argument quite frequently. People talk about it like if it was already settled and anyone who believes that homosexuality is wrong is just a homophobe and a bigot. Without getting into that issue, I can tell you that I know a lot of people who are very open-minded and intelligent who find homosexuality wrong and do not believe that homosexual couples should marry. Simply pretending like this controversial matter is over and naming the other side ignorant completely ignores what probably half this country has to say.
For some reason a lot of people have a difficult time admitting that perhaps both sides of an opinion can be informed and rational.
Oftentimes we see this in the conversation about the existence of God. There are Christians who I have heard say: “Anyone who doesn’t believe in God is ignorant and blind.” On the contrary, I have heard atheists countless times claim that anyone who believes in God is not only ignorant but “irrational”.
Really? Are either arguments even remotely fair?
I can understand how someone can be an atheist — I get it. How can there be so much evil in the world if there is a God? How does it make sense scientifically? The list could go on. But can you not at least grant the fact that I am not irrational just because I disagree and decide to believe in God?
On the flip side, is an atheist really ignorant? No! Most of them are very well learned and intelligent.
The reality is that the majority of people that I have met are far from ignorant. Most people are not irrational, bigots, racists, homophobes, close-minded, or stupid. Yes, there are the crazies out there (and every side of every argument has them). But most of the subjects we debate today are highly contested for the very fact that they are difficult and complex subjects that lack an easy answer. Perhaps it’s time we stop looking at the other sides of issues as ignorant and start listening to what they actually have to say.
We all might learn something for it.