What does it truly mean to be ignorant?

Is it a state that someone experiences for a short period of time or a cage that one becomes trapped in?

Two women get in an argument at a high school volleyball game.  One of them, the younger, made an ill advised comment about the visiting team.  Harmless mind you, but probably of poor taste.  The older woman, cheering for those visitors, responded, “That’s just ignorant.  You’re ignorant.”  The younger lady apologized immediately.  Her shock and embarrassment evident.  Her apologies did nothing to sway the older woman.  The older woman was now angry and made sure that everyone knew it.  You’ve likely been around someone like this.  They speak as if all are there to simply be audience members to their rant.  And their tone and attitude carries a curious expectation that everyone present is on their side.

Have you even been in a situation where you knew it’d be better to keep your mouth shut?  Just be quite, let it pass, and all will be well and good.  That’s good advice.  Advice I will attempt to remember for the next time.  This time, however, my mouth spoke.  The conversation had shifted and now the older woman spoke in my direction, as if we were colleagues, fellow journeyman through the world of bullying and overreaction.  As if, for some unknown reason, she felt like I agreed with her response to this younger ladies comments.  I did not.  Regardless of any comments made she had apologized and there was really no need to continue berating her.

It is important to understand what you’re fighting for.  You should know whether it is worth fighting for or not.  Is this a hill you’re willing to die on?

“I’ve got to get up before I ____ someone up.  I can’t be around this stupid, ignorant girl,” the older woman announced as she stood up.  “I’ll kick her ___, I’ll knock the ____ out of her,” she proclaimed as she looked toward me for approval.  (Inappropriate words removed.)

Yes, I will die on this hill.

No one should be bullied in such a way, so I voiced my defense of this young girl.  I then was the subject of threats and mockery and labels of “ignorant” and “stupid.”  I spoke calmly and tried to ensure her that the young lady was apologetic and that there was no need to further push the issue.  Though such words, meant to be reassuring and peacemaking, only enraged her anger all the more.  I suppose she had decided to be angry and some guy telling her that such anger is misplaced only caused the pot to boil over.  As is the case with any of us in our most ugly moments, we desire the anger more than the resolution.

When the older lady left for another seat, both the ladies were plenty embarrassed.  I was a bit riled up myself.  Yet I hold no ill feelings toward anyone involved.  The younger lady will heal, learn a valuable lesson in that you cannot predict how people will react to your words, and hopefully grow from it.  The older lady was angry about something in life, likely nothing even there at the time, and needed to release that; though, I hope she finds a more suitable method of doing so.   And I was left with this one word ringing in my mind, “ignorant.”

What does that even mean?  Ignorant?

I.Q., prejudice, grades, knowledge, poor decisions?  Which is the true measure of ignorance?

I suppose you could say all of them.  I do know this, when I toss words around like ignorance it tends to become a self fulfilling prophecy over my own life.  I’ve been guilty of such a thing far too many times.  And, I should confess, I’ve been guilty of loosing my temper and putting my foot in my mouth plenty of times as well.  That volcano eruption of anger is no stranger to my world.

Ignorance occurs when I forget to be humble.  When I forget that the person beside me is created in God’s image and that I stand neither above them on high moral ground nor below them on kind soft soil.  I stand equal to them occasionally saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, not caring about their story, and from time to time loosing my cool.  Ignorance is born from moments where I believe I am the most important person in the room and therefore my view matters above all others.  Ignorance happens when I place myself upon a pedestal.

Lord help us all to follow you in humility, to offer mercy to others, and to steer clear of ignorance.


2 thoughts on “Ignorant

  1. Greg Harbin

    Irony. Was in Belk today to buy a shirt. Two ‘ladies’ there looking at UT shirts, “I ain’t paying that!…That’s retarded!” And i remembered your story…nice work, Rob.


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