The Bane of Ignorance
Canadian author Gail Bowen penned a poignant line in her book, A Killing Spring:
“ Knowledge is a sturdier weapon than ignorance.”
Why is a weapon needed? Because there is a world war going on – always has been – between good and bad, constructive and destructive, benevolent and malevolent, life and death. I’m reminded of the tale in which a First Nations chief in Canada tells his grandson that inside everyone there are two dogs, a white one and a black one, fighting each other. When the grandson asks what determines which one wins, the wise chief says, “the one you are feeding the most.” Chowing down on ignorance has never had a positive effect on anyone or anything.
Pardon the use of an old adage, but while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, one is not entitled to one’s own facts. The Earth is round, folks, and the sun doesn’t orbit around it. To be sure, there are many unknowns over which fervent debate takes place. But untold misery has resulted from ignorance or misinterpretations of reality.
Burning “witches” at the stake. Building an “unsinkable” ship. Sixteen hundred men were killed or wounded at the January 8, 1815 Battle of New Orleans, fifteen days after the Treaty of Ghent had been signed to end the War of 1812 . . . but the combatants had not received the news yet. Someone is accidentally shot and killed because the “unloaded” pistol was, in fact, loaded.
To make prudent decisions and live righteously is way more liable to happen if and when one has knowledge of actual facts. This means that doing serious and diligent homework on any given issue can be vitally important to inner peace and peace between people. This might mean critically examining presuppositions taught and embraced . . . presuppositions which just might be discovered to be erroneous.
In 1985, when apartheid was still in full bloom, I met at a church in downtown Johannesburg with a group of white congregants. This particular group, which was fighting for the freedom and civil rights of native South Africans, included a young man who had been brought up to believe that black Africans were almost subhuman and certainly created to be subservient to all white people. I asked him what caused the change in his attitude. His reply: “The facts, sir. When I realized that the only difference between me and them is skin color, it changed my whole life.”
Knowledge is a sturdier weapon than ignorance.