“Arrogance is ignorance matured,” reads an age-old phrase, made popular recently in the context of Tuesday’s election by Martin Sheen. He was commenting on presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but my digression into national politics will end here with the hope that by today, all the election madness will have died down.
The quote struck me not only because of how well it applied in Sheen’s context, but because of how well it applies to our campus climate right now. In the last issue of the Index, a heated article was published as a harsh critique of our Arts and Cultural Events Board. Although it generated some buzz, it did so by taking an extremely close-minded stance on the issue that was rather one-sided.
Whether or not the accusations outlined in the argument were true, the piece immediately lost credibility, when this imbalance became apparent. The author seemed uninterested in finding out more information about ACE Board policies or attempting to determine why decisions were being made, and really invested in creating as dramatic an affair as possible.
This scares me.
In today’s world, where publishing an opinion is as simple as hitting the “tap to tweet” button, we need to be especially careful and vigilant when sharing our stances on issues. Why? Because we don’t spend the time we used to—like the philosophers and great thinkers of the past—with the content before publishing it. We don’t take the time to consider both sides of the issue, or take the time to be careful with our words, so that we are not misunderstood or misinterpreted. It’s almost as if we don’t even take the time to care about how the things we say will affect others.
This is ignorance. Refusing to learn more about the issue, to spend time before developing an opinion, and instead tweeting, “I hate such-and–such! #soannoyed” helps no one. Worse, in our polarized society, where everything is dramatized, we feel the need to have a stance on issues, even ones we know nothing about.
I think this is the type of change that we need to see: people comfortable with not knowing how they feel about something and to feel the power of actually thinking through a problem from both sides before reaching a strong conclusion that means so much more. If we don’t, our opinions are ignorant and therefore useless.
So whenever we write anything down and especially when we take the time to write up a column or blog discussing our opinion on an issue, let’s take the time to slow down and think it through. Because what we say will have an impact on our audience, and whether that is positive or negative all depends on the care placed in writing the words. We need to check our ignorance before it becomes arrogance and feel comfortable with where we are, exploring and questioning the world around us, taking it in and gaining a deeper understanding before critiquing it to shreds. Perhaps the world would be a much better place if we all learned to open our ears a little more and open our mouths a little less.

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