Contrary to popular belief, I maintain the assertion that ignorance is not a passive thing: it is active (see: confirmation bias is such an example of the active reinforcement of certain ideas, including ignorance or absence of information by avoidance).
The great thing about film and books, for me, above all is that it is shared experience. It is the ability to go beyond our own subjective selves and explore other worlds, other modes of being, existence, truth and lives. It is an invite to inter-subjectivity; something that may only be exchanged but never fully realised. Books and film has made me more empathetic. More understanding. More moral. It has challenged my assumptions and unarticulated presuppositions. Growth is hard. Accepting you’re wrong can be like swallowing a rock, but by god will it settle you, anchor you more closely to the earthly life, and to Truth, and to living an ethical life with others (which is important to me).
Personally, accepting I am wrong is a hard comfort: it is a sign that I am growing, I am not in stasis. For one thing I do know (and echoing a bit of Socratic wisdom here), is that I definitely do not have all the answers, nor do I know everything. I know I am definitely not God, and to be in the comfort of not being challenged in my assumptions and going through an extended period without error or finding out I might be wrong? That’s a troubling sign to me. Because that’s one thing I know: it is impossible for me to be right all the time.
I want to bring up a time I had a realisation of sorts. It was when I was reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. An amazing book, the recommendation of which is the objective of this journal entry. That despite I have a 4,000 word essay hanging over me, the need to express my experience reading this book is paramount. I want to share this voice.
Between the World and Me is written from a father to his young son. It is a letter about what it means to inhabit a black body in modern-day America/ the world.
Growing up where the importance of education was culturally emphasised, as well as heaped on by society, an assumption I had was that more and better education was the solution to societal issues. A catch-all solution essentially. If you wanted to better yourself and overcome your circumstances –then education was a way out. I never questioned this assumption I held through into my early twenties until I read this book. And boy, in shock I realised I ashamed of myself –because what Coates was describing –that was me.
The world, the real one, was civilization secured and ruled by savage means. How could the schools valorize men and women whose values society actively scorned? How could they send us out into the streets of Baltimore, knowing all that they were, and then speak of nonviolence?
I cam to see the streets and the schools as arms of the same beast. One enjoyed the official power of the state while the other enjoyed its implicit sanction. But fear and violence were the weaponry of both. Fail in the streets and the crews would catch you slipping and take your body. Fail in the schools and you would be suspended and sent back to those same streets, where they would take your body. And I began to see these two arms in relation –those who failed in the schools justified their destruction in the streets. The society could say, “He should have stayed in school,” and then wash their hands of him.Between the World and Me, page 33
I realised the corollary of my assumption of education was that I washed my hands of those who failed. Education should never be an issue of survival, but the reality of education as life or death was what school meant for many people, and it is a fact I did not know I had implicitly accepted. That was hard for me to reckon with, and yet I never stop being thankful for how I am blessed to have reckoned with it at all –for that is the essence of growth, and being a better person connected with others, in living on this home we all call Earth. As Audre Lorde said: “the true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations that we seek to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is planted deep within each of us.”