Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Follow up to Question for Readers: What is the best way to combat ignorance?

Here is the immediate reason for my post. While living in the South, I have encountered a lot of ignorance, or what I deem anti-progressive thought. (See earlier post: Is the Southern U.S. in Need of a Cultural Revolution?) When I posted those questions, actually moments before I posted the questions, I had a heated argument with a work associate. During this argument, I was told to "go live in Iran, express my opinions, and see what happened to me as a woman." I can only assume that he was suggesting that I would be raped, killed, jailed, or otherwise assaulted (as opposed to being verbally assaulted, which is what happened to me during this conversation). I took what he said to mean that basically I was lucky to be able to be a woman and live in a country where I was allowed to speak my mind. Yes, it is called the first amendment. But I guess, as a man, he did not question his right to speak his mind. He went on to regurgitate propaganda which could have come directly from one of President Bush's pro-war speeches right around the time he began to send the military into Iraq.
In any case, needless to say, I was quite angry after this "conversation." But anger does not solve problems, resolve differences, or bridge knowledge gaps. In fact, it usually causes problems (when not channelled properly). So, I am trying to be the "bigger person" in this situation, and rise above my momentary anger to ask what it is I can do to combat such attitudes and ignorance. This attitude is one I have been subjected to many times during my two year stint in Florida (which I hope will be coming to an end soon). I have encountered a great deal of sexism and culturally-backward attitudes on many occasions. This situation has made me feel oppressed, sad, angry and powerless at times. But I am wondering if there is a way that I can turn all of these things into something positive. Here is my feeble attempt to do just that.
Previously, I was ignorant that so much sexism, racism and cultural bias still existed in the United States. I had thought this was a thing of the past. My eyes have now been opened to this ugliness. Now that I am aware of it, I have the opportunity to do something about it. You cannot attempt to make a change where you do not know that one is needed.
I have learned, or perhaps am learning, that the best way to combat ignorance is through knowledge, education and sympathy (certainly not with aggression or anger). At least, this is what I think.
What do you think?

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