The Invisible Pandemic
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” And I have to say, I quite agree. If there was one thing at the root of most of the issues we face in the world, it would be ignorance. And the worst part about it is that we live in a time where it’s difficult to be ignorant because everything is at our fingertips. With a click or a swipe, we have the power to learn anything. So then, when we choose not to educate ourselves and we spread false information or biased views, we become part of the very problems we wish so heavily to eradicate. We want to bring an end to things like discrimination and social injustice, yet very often our actions contradict what we claim we want because we think we already know all there is to know. If I think I know the alphabet, I’m not going to go educating myself on it. But presuming to know an entire population of other people and therefore not trying to learn about them is an entirely different, and entirely more harmful, act to engage in.
A willingness to learn is the first step in creating a just society because if we don’t acknowledge injustice in the first place how can we move towards something better. If we refuse to understand every perspective that’s not our own, refuse to stand in the shoes of others, refuse even to use our minds and think for just a moment, we fall prey to a dangerous way of living life. Often we see danger in physical things. Things that we can see. A storm is dangerous, poison is dangerous, fire is dangerous, but we never consider the danger in things we can’t see, like words or acts fueled by ignorance. Things that may not harm us directly, that may not kill us immediately, but are like a slow poison. And the only antidote to the poison of ignorance is an open mind and the will to learn.
Keeping an open mind is a crucial part of discovering the truth and standing with it. A narrow-minded person is someone who’s decided they’re right and doesn’t want to hear otherwise. That limits the actions they take, the things they say, and the impact they have solely to their, oftentimes skewed, view of the world and the people living in it. And while we may believe our mindset is doing little to harm anyone else, we don’t realize it makes all the difference. Such a mindset is a plague (or, more accurate to our time, a virus) that infects anyone who allows it in. Unlike a virus, the effects may not be immediately visible but are there all the same.