How Being Told You’re Ignorant Can Make You A Better Person

Written by Nathan Maingard

Nathan Maingard is a wordsmith giving voice to those who feel isolated and lost in these times of mass delusion and dis-ease. A breathwork instructor, modern troubadour (empowering songs, poems & stories) and ILS pro coach, Nathan empowers down-to-earth seekers to be their authentic selves. In this way we can feel, heal, and grow a beautiful world together.

5 Jul 2022

What if someone calling you ignorant was an exciting moment in your life? Read on to find out how that might make more sense than you’d expect.

Why am I writing about ignorance? Well, I wrote a poem (which I will share on this blog soon), and one of the lines is:

Only ignorance or idealism

Could convince a person

That their impossible burger

Is more beneficial than agricultural regeneration

Every time I speak this poem I get a little twinge of discomfort. This is because I’m convinced that most people believe the word ignorant to be an insult. 

In simplest terms, ignorance is defined as ‘lack of knowledge’.

It’s not an insult. It’s a state. It’s changeable. It’s an invitation.

It’s ok, everyone is ignorant

First of all, there’s nothing wrong with being ignorant!  

Think about the sum total of all that can ever be known (no pressure).

From that perspective, everyone is ignorant about almost everything. 

Or, put another way, everyone knows almost nothing.

So chill, it’s all good.

We’re all fools floating in infinity.

Even the greatest genius of all time knew an infinitesimal fraction of All That Can Be Known.

BUT, to learn that you’re ignorant about something you care about! 

Well, here comes a wonder-full opportunity. 

How can someone telling you that you’re ignorant make you a better person?

Someone throws the words at you like a well-aimed poison-tipped dart: “You’re ignorant.”

Pause. Do nothing. Take a deep, slow breath and let it go. You have choices.

If they’re right, you’ve received an invitation to:

1. Learn about the thing you’re ignorant about
2. Decide you don’t care enough about the thing to become informed about it…and move on with your life

Either way, the person who called you ignorant has done you a favour. Thank them and get on with your life.

What if someone calls you ignorant and they are WRONG?

Ah, now THIS is where things get interesting -and messy- for so many of us. 

Many people mistake ‘knowing something’ for their identity (who they think they are). This that can lead to more-than-mild discomfort. 

Someone challenging your truth can feel abrasive (sandpaper for your ego, anyone?). This is because you’re reacting to a perceived challenge to who you believe yourself to be. Rather than it just being someone having a different -even if wrong- perspective.

My advice would be to realise that you are not what you know, you are the one doing the knowing, and go on your merry way.

Do not argue with a fool for he will eventually bring you down to his level and then beat you with experience.

Mark Twain

Here are two options for you:

  1. Explain in a calm loving voice that you do in fact know what you’re talking about. Risky if they’re as wilfully ignorant as the donkey in the story below.
  2. Let it go and continue with your life, content and with no need to prove anything to anyone

Below you’ll find the story of the donkey and the tiger. It illustrates why arguing with someone who knows less than you reflects more on you than on them.

The story of the donkey and the tiger

The donkey told the tiger:
′′The grass is blue”.
The tiger replied:
′′No, the grass is green”.

The discussion became heated up, and the two decided to submit the issue to arbitration, and to do so they approached the lion, King of the Jungle.

Before reaching the clearing in the forest where the lion was sitting on his throne, the donkey started screaming:
′′Your Highness, is it true that grass is blue?”.
The lion replied:
“True, the grass is blue”.

The donkey rushed forward and continued:
′′The tiger disagrees with me and contradicts me and annoys me. Please punish him”.
The king then declared:
′′The tiger will be punished with 5 years of silence”.

The donkey jumped for joy and went on his way, content and repeating:
′′The grass is blue”…

The tiger accepted his punishment, but he asked the lion:
′′Your Majesty, why have you punished me, after all, the grass is green?”
The lion replied:
′′In fact, the grass is green”.
The tiger asked:
′′So why do you punish me?”
The lion replied:
′′That has nothing to do with the question of whether the grass is blue or green. The punishment is because it is not possible for a brave, intelligent creature like you to waste time arguing with a donkey, and on top of that to come and bother me with that question”.

The worst waste of time is arguing with the fool and fanatic who doesn’t care about truth or reality, but only the victory of their beliefs and illusions.

Never waste time on discussions that make no sense… There are people who for all the evidence presented to them, do not have the ability to understand, and others who are blinded by ego, hatred and resentment, and the only thing that they want is to be right even if they aren’t.

When ignorance screams, intelligence shuts up.

Your peace and tranquility are worth more.

 

PS: I can’t find the source of this story, let me know if you know it

Ignorance is bliss…depending on what you’re ignorant about

There are some things which, once known, cannot be unknown. 

The beauty of ignorance is that it is a cozy blanket. When wrapped in ignorance, we’re padded from knowings which would blow our tiny minds like lightning through a lightbulb.

Ignorance is a gift from the divine. But it’s also a curse. When the blanket of ignorance cuts off air, light, and our ability to live lives of joy and wonder…that’s a problem. 

Choose your ignorance wisely

You can’t know everything. 

But you can know things important for your health, joy, purpose and what you came to this life to experience.

Our society has made us ignorant of critical things.

Filled our heads with entertainment, distraction and worry. 

Emptied us of presence, genius, playfulness and spontaneity.

We only need to look us around to see the result.

Imagine if we’d been educated in:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Breathwork
  • Martial Arts
  • Conscious Communication
  • Sexual Empowerment
  • Permaculture
  • Regenerative agriculture
  • Ancestral nourishment 
  • Life as a Ritual
  • Plant medicine
  • Nature as divinity and us as nature
  • Trauma release and other somatic practices
  • This list goes on and on…

The good news is: we have this moment!

Let’s choose our ignorance -and our knowledge- more wisely.

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Takeaway Summary

We all know almost nothing.
We have a choice about what to remain ignorant of and what to gain knowledge of.
This is an important choice!

3 tips for a happy life of conscious ignorance

1. Someone calling you ignorant is not an insult…it’s an invitation
2. If they are right, you have a choice either to learn more or acknowledge are happy to remain ignorant in this area
3. If they are wrong you can try to prove it or let it go and save your energy for other things

I look forward to learning many more areas of my ignorance in this life. 

Please share your favourite moments of realising your ignorance (and what you did in response).

May realising your ignorance be the invitation to choose your knowledge wisely.

With love
Nathan

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Thank you, I love you and trust you.

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9 Comments

  1. Nathan Maingard

    Does any of this make sense to you? Love to have your thoughts. Either way, thank you for reading and I hope it has brought you something you needed today ?

    Reply
    • Marlon Jones

      I tend to agree on the definition of ignorance. For years now, I have simply thought to myself (or stated aloud) that I feel as if ignorance is simply not knowing. Additionally, I also feel like ignorance can potentially lead to knowledge on a subject matter.
      For example, as a black man I’m ignorance of some of the cultures of the world. That said, I can ask questions (in a respectful manner, of course) and attempt to gain knowledge. Of course one must be willing to have such a conversation, which means one must possess a certain degree of courage to begin with.
      All of that to say, one should be willing and vulnerable enough to entertain the possibility of being ignorant on SEVERAL fronts.

      #TheEnd

      Reply
      • Nathan Maingard

        Love your words here, Marlon. I agree that Courage is required to live from ignorance to knowledge with humility and grace. Thank you ??

        Reply
  2. asli telli

    There are definitely many things I ignored for a long time, knowing they should not be ignored. However, there is one thing I have never ignored and will never forgive anyone who does so: Those who get away with, “Ignorance is bliss!” I believe such ignorant belief is the source of many core problems in this life and planet:( Hope not many ignore this post; at least among those who spend the kind time to read it through till the end. Thank you for sharing your genuine heart and true mind, dear Nathan. Yours truly- Asli

    Reply
    • Nathan Maingard

      Haha, it’s a crazy saying, though i do understand the motivation behind it. I also think it’s misplaced! Better to have knowledge of the important things than ignorance. Thank you for sharing and for being on this journey with me, Asli, I’m honoured by your presence and kind reflections. With love, always. Nathan

      Reply
  3. David Cook

    Hi Nathan. Thank you for posting this. It was a calming and also humorous read. It also made me slow down and think how much time we spend sometimes on arguing pointlessly just to try and make a point.
    On a different note I have just received my signed ‘In The Shadows’ cd from you today.. so happy ? I can’t tell you how much I love ‘Slow It Down’ (well I probably have before). Thanks so much Nathan, with love and peace, David (Southampton, England) x

    Reply
    • Nathan Maingard

      I’m so happy to hear that the CD arrived, thank you for your patience David!! And yes, good to remember that arguing pointlessly is…well, pointless ?. All the best and thank you for the support!

      Reply
  4. Lei Lani

    I am so happy that I have found your presence on the internet again! The topic of this article is so timely; I just recently had a social media post refused because I wrote that I was “globally ignorant” when I was thanking someone for posting a link to an online game of “Name that Country” called Globle. I hope all is well with you, and yours. Thank you, again, my favorite troubador!

    Reply
    • Nathan Maingard

      Happy to be of service, and welcome back into my strange little world of curiosity and wonder ??

      Reply

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