Celebrate Ignorance
by Eric Straw

I may have overheard this in the checkout line at Netflix.

Sophia: Stop that! Just let her finish.

Brutus: Why should I let her finish? She’s not making any sense.

Sophia: Zoe is trying to explain, but you keep interrupting.

Zoe: This movie is a realistic…

Brutus: It’s not realistic! It could never happen.

Sophia: Brutus! Stop interrupting!

Brutus: Whatever. I’m out.

Sophia: So, you know all the answers? You’re so sure it could never happen that you’re not willing to listen?

Brutus: That’s right!

Zoe: What about Athens during the…

Brutus: Stop! It hasn’t happened and it will never happen.

Sophia: You should really learn to listen.

Brutus: I know how to listen.

Sophia: No you don’t. You may know how to hear, but you don’t know how to listen. Your knowledge has made you arrogant.

Brutus: So I should be stupid instead?

Sophia: No. Knowledge can lead to arrogance, but the antidote is humility not ignorance. Listening demonstrates intellectual humility.

Zoe: She’s a wise woman. I’d listen to her.

Sophia: You have a lot to learn from life, and you’re not going to learn it by refusing to listen. By listening you acknowledge that you don’t know everything. It’s a way of celebrating your ignorance. You can learn something from everyone you meet, everyone you hear, and everything you read. You celebrate that ability by listening to them.

Brutus: So now I’m supposed to celebrate my ignorance?

Eric Straw is an associate professor of computer science here at Corban.

Sophia: Right.

Brutus: By listening?

Zoe: Brilliant! Did you figure that out on your own?

Sophia: But you have to genuinely listen. This calls for much more than just hearing. You have to understand what they are saying.

Brutus: Great. Any more free advice?

Sophia: Yes. You should be intentional about listening to those you disagree with. Don’t always pick the books, movies, radio stations, and media outlets that agree with your positions. Don’t get stuck just evaluating problems from your cultural perspective. Choose to listen to the other side frequently and the world will be a better place.

Brutus: I wasn’t serious. You can stop now.