Unwarranted Opinions: are people stupid or just ignorant?


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column “UnWarranted Opinions,” staff reporter Drew Julao takes on a variety of topics and gives her take.

Drew Adrian Julao, Staff Reporter

I don’t see a need for lying. That is, in most situations, I don’t see a need for lying. I don’t get the point of it. Why make your life more difficult than just admitting that you did something and getting over it? That is why I am candid and, obviously, opinionated. I don’t see a need to sugarcoat and act like something that I am not, but a lot of the time people take my candor and sarcasm as a crude form of humor and laugh it off as if there wasn’t a bit of truth in what was just said. This often leads me to wonder about the person, “Are you stupid? Do you not get what I am trying to say?” But a few days ago, my older sister posed a question that made me rethink my approach in understanding others. She asked me, “Do you think people are stupid or just ignorant?”

That question got me thinking about the way that I saw people. ‘Blissful ignorance’ is a term that most people are familiar with, but have we ever looked into the truth of the statement? I know that I have always jokingly said, “I would rather live in blissful ignorance than a sad truth.” And yet, it has taken me so long to notice how true this statement is in most lives.

Now, thinking of this logically, I have concluded that there are three types of ignorance. First, is ignorance from not listening. Second, is ignorance from not knowing. Third, is the saddest kind, ignorance from not wanting. These three types are what make us think that a person is stupid when they are not, they are just uninformed or unwilling. Let us go through all three in order to understand deeper into individuals in society.

Not listening. To me, this is a cardinal sin. Not listening is one of the rudest things that you can do to a person, and one of the biggest insults. It tells someone that either you don’t care about them, their opinion, or the topic that they are talking about. This is the worst kind of ignorance because it is easily avoided, and yet, time and time again we run into people that choose, in defiance, not to hear those around them. It is petulant and often stems from pride or arrogance that their opinion, or whatever they are doing, is justified even when it is not. This is the most likely to be misconstrued as stupidity. Life could be much easier for such a person if they just listened. If they just understood that you don’t have to agree, because understanding is not agreeing, it is just minding others and being a decent human being.

Not everyone has to have the same beliefs or thoughts, but in order to have a well thought out discussion, each side needs to listen and understand the other. Then, we can co-exist peacefully without feeling the need to harass each other with our own opinions and beliefs.

Not knowing. This is the most forgivable kind of ignorance. Being born in a family that did not inform you or growing up in a place where you did not learn certain things is forgivable if you choose to learn now, correct yourself, and adapt to the world around you to be more understanding. This kind of ignorance is not self-inflicted, but a predisposition that can be corrected with conscious effort. Although sometimes this can come hand in hand with the ignorance of not listening depending on the person.

Not wanting. This is the most common kind of ignorance. The person that ignores perceptions around them. The kind of ignorance that doesn’t mind the things around them because they don’t want to deal with it, like a person that knows someone needs help but ignores it because “it’s too much of a hassle” or they “don’t have the time for such trivial matters.” 

I say that it is the saddest because it is not always about others. Sometimes, it is about the self. Sometimes, people are ignorant to issues or flaws about themselves and choose to ignore them because they don’t know how to fix it or it just makes them feel bad about themselves.

At the same time, ‘stupidity’ can be an effect of ignorance, but it isn’t really stupidity, it’s the absence of knowledge. I don’t like to uses the word ‘stupid’ for this because it is not a fair word except to those who choose not to learn and improve themselves. Still, I don’t want to think of using that word because what good does it do me to insult another just because their ways are trying on my patience?

Ignorance is the state of unknowingness. Someone is not stupid, they are ignorant from one of the three causes; not willing, not knowing, and/or not wanting. Knowing this now, we can consciously try to take care not to be ignorant people because that does not do anyone any good, and it does not help the world turn into a better place for others.