Part 1: The Difference Between Narrow-Mindedness and Ignorance

Where do we draw the line between narrow-mindedness and ignorance? The line is very fine, so it is difficult to detect it in other people, and even in ourselves; however, it’s important that we learn how to recognize the difference between the two — terrible things can happen if we don’t. We can end up causing a lot of pain because we misunderstood someone else’s ignorance as closed-mindedness, or they misunderstood us in this same way. Knowing the difference between the two might prevent us from expecting others to pay an unrealistic price that shouldn’t have to be paid – all because they, just like us, don’t know everything about the world.

Ignorance is usually harmless, but if we deny that we are ignorant our innocence turns into narrow-mindedness. If we see ourselves as knowing everything, then naturally, we will see others as stupid, uninformed, and maybe even evil.

I decided to split this blog post into two parts.  Today I will list three traits of narrow-minded people.  Tomorrow I will post about one trait of ignorance, and then I’m going to talk about a time this year when I couldn’t recognize the difference between the two in myself and others—I’m going to tell you the story that inspired me to write this blog post in the first place.  Stay tuned tomorrow for the second part about ignorance, and to read my story.  In the meantime prepare for yourself a steaming hot cup of cocoa (a couple gingerbread and shortbread cookies can’t hurt either) , get comfortable, and join me as we contemplate on three traits of narrow-mindedness that we should look out for in ourselves and others.

Hot Cocoa

Narrow-Mindedness

Calls other people “ignorant”: Whenever I look at media today, the news, internet, etc., I notice a strange trend. The characters on our electronic screens point their fingers at others and call them “ignorant” as if not knowing things makes them evil.  You don’t know anything about Indigenous culture?! “If you are not Indigenous yourself, don’t appropriate that culture and risk misrepresenting it”, or you might learn from your human tendency to be curious about what you are ignorant about. (Gasp! How awful would learning from our ignorance be?)

There is nothing wrong with being ignorant – absolutely nothing.  This word is being overused in a negative way by people who want it to have a strictly negative meaning. We are all ignorant, so if we call others “ignorant” out of pride or spite we risk acting like closed-minded hypocrites.  Whenever we are learning something new we need to start somewhere–we have to start off as being ignorant before we can become informed.  Where else can we start?

They do whatever it takes to avoid understanding you: Some children cover their ears to avoid listening to others; once people grow up, however, this behaviour becomes socially unacceptable. Because of this, adults might resort to other means. These means can include beginning a conversation with someone else while you are trying to talk to them, giving you a dirty look while you are trying to express yourself, changing the subject, or simply walking away to do something else.

Sometimes they will also use noise to block out information that others are trying to give to them. If there have been people in your life who tend to do this, you know that you feel trapped in their presence. If you try to sincerely express your own feelings to them, you can’t get a word in edgewise before they begin to shout at you angrily, roar with laughter, or burst into tears. They sabotage your freedom for the sake of their own.

If these things only last a short while, and later this person shows some willingness to communicate with you to find the truth, this may have not been closed-mindedness in the first place. Maybe this person was just confused or scared. Maybe he or she is now seeking forgiveness and trying to help you to understand what you did that upset them so that you know what you need to be forgiven for. However, if this person never shows any intention to understand you, or helping you to understand them, then this person is choosing to remain closed-minded.

They don’t believe in potential, and the need to change: How often have you heard people say, “You/I don’t need to change anything about your/myself”, “I am perfect just the way I am”, or “you are perfect just the way you are” as if these are complements? This philosophy is rooted in subjectivism, also known as relativism. I spoke about relativism in a blog post called “Smallfoot – Objectivism vs. Subjectivism”. Whenever people say these things, I believe that they want to hold onto their own opinions about you, and themselves whether these opinions are good, bad, true, or false. I know for a fact that I need to change – I need to get better at seeing the good in other people, and to develop my own potential to see other’s potentials. I would hope that others would want to see potential in me to become a better person than I am now — I am not “perfect just the way I am”. If they don’t believe in the need to change their own false perceptions of me, or my own false presuppositions of them, then they are acting like closed-minded relativists. I want to see potential in people who don’t believe in potential. Is that a bad thing?

(Part 2)

Disagreeing with Jordan Peterson–Is the unknown order, or chaos?

Disagreeing/Agreeing with Jordan Peterson–Introducing a New Series

In my first post I have credited Jordan Peterson. He is a psychologist, and a professor on Youtube who connects psychology to philosophy and theology. He approaches issues in ways that I have never seen before, and as I’ve also mentioned, listening to him helps me to put my thoughts into words. One thing that I respect about him is what he says when he doesn’t know something, or he has an idea, but doesn’t know how to say it. He will calmly, and honestly say ‘I don’t know’. But even then, he knows that just like anyone else he doesn’t always realize when he doesn’t know something. The unknown goes deeper then our human perspectives can grasp; I’ve already touched a little bit on this at the end of my post “Personality and Pacing”.

Jordan Peterson

Even though people try to deny this about him, and also dehumanize him for his controversy, he welcomes agreement, and disagreement equally as long as people are respectable. This is why I plan to dissect more of his ideas on this blog through a series of posts about the things he says, and pinpoint where I don’t agree with him. I could write blog posts about the things I do agree with, but I can’t see myself doing that too often. I’d be repeating things that were already said by him. For these things, a simple ‘yes’ with a nod of the head is probably all that’s needed because nothing more needs to be said.

We all have thoughts that contradict the other thoughts we have. We don’t always notice this in ourselves, but sometimes other people will. Noticing these contradictions in our mind can help us to shed a light on a problem that needs to be solved. We should never treat revealing these problems as ‘exposing’ someone as a ‘fraud’ for being a double-thinker. We should treat this as the process of trial and error.

Is the unknown order, or chaos?

brown and beige wooden barn surrounded with brown grasses under thunderclouds

Although Jordan Peterson has studied the Bible and theology, and is fascinated with the Biblical stories, he presents the things he says in a humanistic/agnostic way. He will talk with other people about the absoluteness of morality, and the inner compass that lets us know what we should or shouldn’t do. He will talk about the character archetypes in stories that can be used as frameworks to help us understand why we are the way we are, and why we navigate the world the way we do. He believes that there are patterns that point to the absolute truth not only in archetypal stories, but in true stories, and the real world–I can definitely get on board with this. After he says these things, however, I believe that he wavers this point of view when he calls the unknown chaos. He will say something along these lines—God created the world out of chaos, and the Bible says that He created us in His image. So when we create something, we are taking chaos and turning it into order. By doing this we are taking part in creation.

beige analog gauge

He seems to have unintentionally skimmed over the possibility that chaos might not even exist—By listening to his lectures, this got me thinking about the unknown, and made me wonder about this possibility that he didn’t address. I know what you’re probably thinking—We see chaos all the time. How could anyone believe that all the problems we experience, all the cruelty, all the pain, all the suffering, all the clutter, and hustle-and-bustle isn’t chaos? We do perceive these things, but just because these things can be terrible and hard to cope with doesn’t mean that they aren’t part of an order that’s bigger then ourselves.

sand desert blue sky egypt

I believe that a great example of this is the story of Joseph. Out of jealousy over the dreams he was telling them about, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. If he had never became a slave in Egypt in the first place, and wasn’t serving God through all the hardship he had to endure even while doing nothing wrong, no one would have known about the large famine that was going to take place in the future–no one would have been prepared.

His brothers went to Egypt in desperate need of food not knowing who they were going to see. They encountered their very own brother, Joseph, who they sold years ago. Joseph provided them with food. After this he assured them of this: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)

Even when our intentions seem chaotic or bad, this doesn’t even matter in the grand scheme of things. I love this message as someone who finds the concept of intentions, and what makes them good or bad extremely confusing—this was especially true after I discovered that we can have bad intentions without even knowing it. We have no control over our perspectives that always seem to flip-flop from one assumption to the next without even asking for this to happen, but all-in-all, this doesn’t even matter. God has everything under control, and He has given us the Holy Spirit so that whenever we fall out of line everything’s going to fall into place, and we will become more real than we have ever been before.

body of water near island

And yes—if chaos doesn’t exist, this means that every gust of the wind; every small ripple or roaring wave, every tornado or hurricane isn’t chaos. If chaos doesn’t exist, this means that God had a reason to give the devil permission to torture Job, a man who truly loved God. We don’t know how to see these things as anything else but chaos.

In my post ‘Personality and Pacing’, I said “…we are trying to order the world according to our own chaotic human lenses…”, and I truly do believe this. It’s almost like the older I get, the more aware I become that the lens I see the world through can twist reality around me like a fun house mirror, but also reveal reality where other people can or cannot see it. Whenever I enter a grocery store, and my family encourages me to explore the place by myself, that building sure doesn’t seem ordered to me. It feels like I’m surrounded by whirlpools that are going in different directions, and throwing me off balance just because of the people walking opposite, across, or in the same direction as me at varying speeds. I never know when another person is going into the same aisle as me or not. Nothing about this is their fault, and nothing about this is my fault. This all comes down to the temporary lenses that are made to see the world how God wants us to see it in the meantime, and later we will be given new eyes in heaven to see goodness for what it truly is.

barn countryside farm farmhouse

There are a lot of problems that come without fault, but the fault comes down to how we react to these problems. Plenty of conflicts have two or more sides—it’s one twisted funhouse eye against another. These problems come with guilt when two or more individuals or groups believe that they themselves are the ones who are right, and the other people are wrong—they believe that they don’t have to be flexible because the others have a speck in their eye, and they certainly don’t have a log in their own; they will assure you of this. Can you think about any situations where this is happening? Have you ever been guilty of this? If these two questions resonate with you, I want you to stop and think about them before you read the last two paragraphs.

animal mouse wildlife fauna

I can’t end this without mentioning something that happened while these thoughts were cooking in my mind. I was working as a helper in a kindergarten classroom, and I was given the opportunity to read a book called “Seven Blind Mice” by an author named Ed Young to the kids. One of the first pictures in the book showed what the object was that the mice were encountering (I’m not going to give it away here), but the teacher told the kids not to say what is was because the mice had to figure it out for themselves. At the beginning of the book, all of the blind mice were scared of the unknown object, and then they went exploring one-by-one once every day. The red mouse thought that it’s leg was a pillar, the orange one thought that it’s ear was a fan, and every one of them explored different parts of the massive monster by climbing and feeling without sight. They weren’t correct, but they got a general idea of the shape and feeling of specific areas. They didn’t get the full picture until the white mouse explored the whole monster, and took the things that the other mice said into consideration.

With all these things that were on my mind I found myself getting really exited as I read this book. After I finished, I was glad that the teacher spoke about it’s theme because I couldn’t talk about it in a way that five, and six-year-olds could understand. These rules of perception even apply to how you perceive this book according to your age—a story about getting along to children can be extremely philosophical to adults. But who knows? Maybe some of the philosophy from this book resonated with the kids. I also found the use of the number seven very interesting. It was like the mice were discovering parts of creation in the number of days that God created the world, and this got me wondering about something else—whenever we are creating something, are we making order, or discovering the order that’s been here since the beginning of time? I believe that this all depends on how willing we are to step out of our comfort zones with hearts that are eager for the truth.

Are we willing?