Okay, so in all seriousness I know that people don’t generally choose to be ignorant, as such. I mean if you don’t know you’re ignorant about something you can’t do anything about it. However, it does appear to me that some people are happily ignorant about things they know fully well they could easily know a little more about.
We (the rest of the world) can be quite harsh about citizens of the country that lies between Canada and Mexico. We laugh at their expense, marveling at how they can possibly not know that there are hemispherical differences in seasons, or an international dateline that results in some countries being a day ahead or, at the very least, at a different time of day. We (the collective who aren’t them) love to deride their seeming ignorance of everything that occurs outside their national borders, and enjoy stories of citizens of that very country unable to point to the country’s wang on a map.
I admit to having been like this at various times in my life, but after actually marrying one of them I have toned it down considerably. I also moved from a very cosmopolitan city where I mixed with a generally well-educated and well-informed social group and found myself living in a demographically large-enough city full of uneducated ignorant morons.
Last weekend we hired a little half-cabin boat on mother’s day to cruise the sparkling waterways on a glorious, sunny and warm late-Autumn day (in case you’re wondering why we moved to this strange city, there’s your answer). The owner of the boat hire place recognised my husband’s accent and asked where he was from.
“Seattle area”, came my husband’s reply. This is, in fact, a bit of a geographical stretch but Seattle is the nearest large city to his hometown and most people have an idea where it is. Not the boat man, however. In true salesman style, he started trying to relate so he mentioned that the owner of the marina pub was from the same area, and then came the strangest question I’ve ever heard.
“Excuse my ignorance, but is there a mixture of people from a different country there, like Mexican or something maybe?”
My husband tried to follow his train of thought. “Seattle is quite multicultural, yes.”
“But isn’t it near the border of another country, like Mexico or something?”
“It’s pretty close to Canada.”
“Excuse my ignorance again, but I get confused…”
The conversation continued a little until we discovered the owner of the pub was, in fact, from San Diego and that the boat man was confused because he thought the further North you go, the hotter it gets (which is true of the Southern Hemisphere, but not so much of the Northern one), and that was why he thought Mexico was at the top.
During this conversation he kept requesting that we excuse his ignorance, and I did so – to his face – but in actuality I really don’t excuse his ignorance. He already knew he was ignorant, he has met other people from the USA and has feigned interest in their lives but has never bothered to open an atlas or take a quick look at Google maps. If you can wrap your head around his level of ignorance try to consider how little he knows about the layout of the rest of the world, like Asia or the Middle East, or indeed outside the city he’s lived in his entire life and has probably never left.
There’s just really no excuse for being that ignorant when information is so easily available.