Ignorance is an ugly thing. It's like a big black stain on a beautiful white gown. It's that permanent blackhead on the end of our nose that comes in many shapes and sizes and just keeps growing; the less we open our minds.
When I talk about ignorance, I'm not just talking about rudeness. I'm talking about all the negative qualities that impede us from being positively and potentially the best we can be; especially with regards to others.
In today's article, I'm talking about arrogance, inflexible mental attitudes, false beliefs and this innate desire we have to make others look wrong. In doing the latter, we are guilty of a sin far worse than trying to belittle someone, which we have a tendency to do to hide our own shortcomings, we are actually planting seeds that potentially make other people feel insecure about who they are, what they do and what they know.
Worst of all, we insist to the point of trying to convert someone to our way of thinking by resorting to quoting unreliable leads, misinterpreted information and speculative and/or somewhat dubious facts. We resort to any tactic possible in the name of attempting to show we have superior knowledge; even when we don't.
Worst of all, and ironically so, most of the time we are perfectly conscious of what we are doing. And, we all know it's not what we say but it's the way we say it. We could make the most outrageously absurd statement in the whole wide world, but if we said it with conviction, proper stance, confidence and good posture; nine times out of ten we'd probably get away with it.
Have you ever closely watched someone who wants to be right? Have you ever noticed how someone behaves when they know their back is up against the wall? Have you ever stopped to analyse your own behaviour when you want to win an argument or when you're feeling insecure about something and become a little more agressive than usual?
We've all done it at some point in our lives. It's a part of human nature; only some people eventually learn to control it and others never do.
If we are face to face with the offender of our intellect, we adopt a more authoritative position. We plant our feet firmly on the ground, stand tall, stick our chests out, and as if we were some kind of peacock, we start ruffling our feathers in preparation for the "blurt" about to exit our mouths.
Naturally, the other person takes the same stand right back at us and nothing is ever won. In fact, most of the time any discordance led down this path leads to arguments, bickering and in some cases physical violence.
If we are not face to face with the offender of our knowledge, then, in this day of the information super highway, we cltch at straws by sending emails full of links that could potentially back up our claims. Problem is, most of the time when we send an email along those lines, we ourselves might not have even read the articles we're quoting. We just copy/pasted them in a hurry to reach the "being right" finish line.
So, now, the situation begins to border on the ridiculous; especially if the perpertrator quotes the articles back at us in their favour. And, so this wonderful heated email argument flares up and so much good positive energy, and time, is wasted on finding and sending links backwards and forewards.
Of course, the best part about arguing online with someone is the delete button in the email inbox. Yet, as if drawn by some magnetic force our self centred ego and our desire to reach that "right" finish line won't allow us to just hit delete without first having a sneak preview of the email's contents.
Whatever happened to: "We agree to disagree"? Whatever became of: "Maybe I am wrong and I should look into it properly before I reply?" What does it matter who is right or wrong? Is there ever a true right or wrong? Most importantly, whatever happened to a little humility?
All of you out there who have ever eaten humble pie and learnt from it, I take a bow in your presence. I honour you, I really do. It takes a much bigger person to back down of any situation and admit their mistakes, faults or even lack of knowledge than it does for someone to fire back; when confronted. It also takes a much bigger person to remain silent when they know they are right.
It's easy to blab. We open our mouths and our thoughts come out. All we have to do is open our mouths and words come out. Most of the time, we have a tendency to say the first thing that comes into our mind. What's not so easy is to "control" the blab we vocally emit and use selective blabbing.
If someone undermines us or tries to belittle us, instinctively, in the heat of the moment, our first reaction is to lash right back; especially when we know we are right. But, what if we were to just remain silent? What if we didn't add fuel to the already stirring fire? What if we just turned our backs and walked away very politely without further engaging in the dispute?
Similarly, if we've allowed ourselves to enter into an argument with someone, what if we just learn to consciously recognise what we're doing and stop ourselves mid tracks. In Buddhism it is said that we need to be mindful or our thoughts, actions and words. I agree. The world doesn't collapse just because we're the ones to back down. Disaster doesn't strike if we walk away leaving another person thinking they are right; even when perhaps we know they're not. Yet, disaster will surely strike when two people enter a heated confrontation.
Being a bit more humble, and backing down, doesn't mean we're allowing people to walk all over us. It just means we avoid unnecessarily hurting someone else for the sake of our ego. We all learn our lessons in life. Some sooner, some later. It's not up to us to decide when someone will learn.
The Master appears when the student is ready.
All that remains to be seen is whether the student recognises the lessons in front of him or her.