The word alone evokes an equivalent response to nails on a chalkboard or vehicles traveling at a high speed when they collide, crashing into one another, pieces of metal and glass flying everywhere.
Cold and brutal. Callous and ugly. There’s a certain guttural sound as the word rolls off my lips and out of my mouth.
We are surrounded by ignorance every day. We may try to avoid those whose ignorance threatens our mental or emotional well-being. We vehemently proclaim that we are not like them nor do we condone their words or actions. Yet here we are, associated with them and praying that their verbal assaults don’t hurt anyone else, especially those we love and care about.
Just shut them out, push them away, ignore them, we tell ourselves.
And Lord knows I have tried, yet here I am, miffed and disgusted. They’ve fouled my mood and left a terrible taste in my mouth. I’m consumed with a subtle rage that will most certainly put others at risk if it boils up and spills over. Others who won’t deserve my wrath because I allowed someone ignorant to possess my mind.
Like a cancer, my rage will spread and show up in the most random of places. My tone on a call. My attitude toward someone who did nothing wrong. My irritation with something that is far from irritating.
Just ignore them, I tell myself.
The irony is, when we ignore ignorance, we are part of the problem.
Rather than repelling it, we are allowing it therefore in turn, doing the very things we say we aren’t doing – condoning, pardoning and hoping it will just go away.
Despite the countless messages that are filled with positivity and goodness, one ignorant comment can ruin our day. Random interactions filled with pleasantries and kindness, compassion and good will are swept out to sea as we find ourselves awash with fury, waves of anger rising and falling within us.
One of the many things I’ve learned in life is that no one wins when up against an ignorant person. No matter what rules of logic you apply, what compelling analogies you have to share or the keen reasoning ability that you may possess, you will find yourself hitting a brick wall time and time again. The only thing you’re guaranteed is frustration, upset and useless anger. They will deplete your energy and you will find yourself utterly exhausted – mentally, emotionally and physically.
I have been grappling with this for quite some time, sliding back into the old habit of wanting to fix it – or change someone’s mindset. My sincere belief is if we educate someone and that person has the ability to step into another’s shoes, we can help them understand and in turn, make the world a better place.
But the key word is ability – someone must harbor the desire and willingness to understand the plight of another. They must have an open mind or at minimum, one that is not closed and locked, with the key thrown away.
Yet the reality is – some people are ignorant because they choose to be, want to be and derive great pleasure from sprinkling their hate around, all with the objective of turning others into the same miserable minded human beings that they are.
I’m no hero. I’ve allowed the ignorant to strip my world of its beautiful color, drowning in shades of gray because I don’t paint in black and white. I admit my wrongs. I accept my defeats. And I hope to hell that I never, ever catch myself in a position of ignorance and not wanting to see the light.
I’m guilty of allowing others to get under my skin and irritate me to no end, robbing the people in my life of my presence because I’m adrift in my mind, silently battling those who don’t deserve a bit of space in my head.
Trying to reason with an ignorant person is like trying to calm a mad dog – you just can’t. I’ve reached an age and stage where I pick and choose who is in my life – and who stays in my life, without apology.
I can’t fix or change others. I can’t open the hearts and minds of those who are unwilling. But I can ignore them, and so can you.