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How to Tolerate Ignorant People
An institution of higher learning is meant to open up minds, not only to learn new skills and concepts, but also to learn about the bigger world beyond one’s hometown or high school. While most students learn to embrace diversity and become better equipped to function as full members of this ever-growing and ever-changing society, others seem to forego this concept altogether and instead cling to their sheltered concepts. After all, ignorance is bliss. Although I shun bright-eyed, ignorant freshmen, I was one of them. I too, thought that I knew more about the world than I did. I thought I had a good foundation for life. Of course, I soon learned that I was absolutely wrong.
Some bubbles of this ignorant bliss are never bursted. I have gone to college with individuals who happen to hold on to racist ideas. I have also met people who think that the world is not served to them on a silver platter because of their background. I also have gone to school with people whose personal beliefs were completely against their curriculum of study. From insidious individuals, to exclusive cliques, there is an obvious pattern of ignorance, which is a great contrast to the mission of higher education. Although this will sound corny, I believe that minds, just like parachutes, do indeed work best when open.
The first step to tolerate people who refuse to grow and open their minds is to accept that they are allowed to have those beliefs. It is not one’s job to education everyone around him or her. That is education that students came to the university for, and it is their choice to follow through with their goals. Quite frankly, I noticed that people only learn things that they want to. If it does not seem to matter to them, understanding new ideas becomes obsolete for some. After accepting that people will have their own opinion no matter what their circumstance may be, life becomes easier.
Accepting the ignorance of strangers who seem to be in the same university as you for the same reason is not as hard as dealing with friends who become ignorant to academic, social, or moral ideas. Unfortunately, it is just as impossible to serve as the educator to ignorant people, even if they are familiar. Furthermore, sometimes it is necessary to part ways, make adjustments, and learn to streamline any negative energy from those people.
A personal experience I had was dealing with two people who were from the same small town. They were nice, funny, and overall great friends. One thing that happened to irk me was that they considered their life, as they have carried it on, as absolutely normal. I thought it was ridiculous that in one of the most diverse countries in the world, and with so much exposure to people from different social and economic backgrounds, it was possible to begin to think that one’s way of life was the gold standard of normalcy. Some people have a lot to learn. I found this out by being told that I was more diverse than my best friend. I was clearly essentially confused, and then offended. Someone took their time to judge my best friend and me against their own lives and calculate just how far away each of us was from an image of normalcy. I am still friends with them. I understand that no one is perfect. I am most certainly not perfect. It is not my place to try to start to change the way that they perceive the world. Likewise, it is also no one else’s job or function in my life to change my outlook unless my mind is open to it. It is a simple moral courtesy that allows many, many normal people to function together.