There is a lot to fear in the unknown. There is also a lot of comfort to be found in the unknown. If you knew that you would die at the end of the week, you would likely spend your week differently than you would living as you do in the unknown. Society values knowledge and shuns ignorance. Because of these values, many of us spend our lives pretending we know all sorts of things that we don’t. We like to be seen as knowledgeable. We don’t like to be thought of as ignorant. This way of thinking is ignorance and we should know that.
Everyday, children, youth and adults rush off to school and work to tackle the unknown. We gather information, facts and experiences from the vast world of the unknown and collect them in our tiny world of the known. Some things we all know and we consider that to be common knowledge. In each section of society and in each culture there is a shared understanding that should be known by everybody. In the city, common knowledge is knowing to cross the street when the light is green, in the jungle it is knowing which snakes are poisonous. In the jungle, it is fine to be ignorant of traffic laws and in the city, there are more pressing poisons to understand. Yet, when we encounter a person who is lacking in common knowledge, we imagine that person to be stupid or ignorant. When we imagine that kind of thing about others we also imagine it about ourselves. We fear that we too, may be stupid or ignorant. That is the fear of the unknown.
When we understand that knowledge is relative and contextual, we don’t have to worry about being stupid and ignorant. All human knowledge amounts to a grain of sand on the beach of the unknown. When we embrace our ignorance, we can drop the pretense of appearing to have special knowledge. We can then focus on exploring the unknown and using what we find to help each other get along in life. Who knows what we can accomplish?