First of all, we have to know the difference between ignorance and stupidity or idiocy. As the saying goes “Do not attribute to malice what is perfectly explained by stupidity”.
We also have to understand that malice or evil -in any way, shape or form- is more than just the absence of good, and that ignorance -deliberate/conscious or inadvertent/unconscious- is more than just simply incomplete knowledge. It follows then, that we are all ignorant to a certain point and, therefore, we are also evil to the extent of our ignorance and/or our willingness to cling to it, and/or our inability/unwillingness to move away from it.
The importance of this basic premise goes beyond ignorance/evil and knowledge/good based on the position that we take from here on-wards.
In other words, we can either build upon whatever knowledge/good we have, or we can dwell in our ignorance/evil only to further entrench it.
It is much easier to dwell in our ignorance/evil for it requires little, if any, effort other than just following a narrow mental path of self-deception and self-reinforcement.
On the other hand, in order to build upon our knowledge/good, great effort is required. Especially, to open our mind and heart and break free from any narrow-minded self-imposed perspectives.
We can see on a daily basis how easily people cling to their narrow-mindedness/ignorance/evil refusing to take the path of wisdom for the sake of their ignorance and arrogance.
Take, for instance, the stance of some religious leaders about gay people whom they condemn as “possessed by demons,” refusing to understand the fact supported by science that they were born like that.
Or bureaucracies. Those on top still refuse to understand that in order to be truly efficient, i.e., sustainable, they have to transform their restrictive, toxic, and tropophobic dominant-hierarchies into enhancive, invigorating, and tropophilic systems.
Or gun control in the USA. The National Rifle Association (NRA) insists that gun control (or the lack of it) is not the problem. They strongly believe that the “culprit” behind mass shootings is a mental issue. It is patently obvious that those behind the mass shootings have a mental problem, but so does the NRA by refusing to face the reality that by making gun purchases easily accessible to anybody, their are facilitating these acts. Yet, the NRA clings to its ignorance/evil.
In a similar vein, when we analyze the behavior of supremacists and/or fundamentalists from the left and right, their ignorance/evil is patently evident. They cling to their narrow-minded and ignorant position in a futile attempt to show their rightfulness when in actuality they do just the opposite. They deliberately choose to build upon their ignorance/evil in a desperate effort to prove their “wisdom” without realizing they have just proven their ignorance/evil even further!
It is a moral duty and obligation of every human to move away from ignorance/evil by building upon knowledge/good towards a path of wisdom.
Thus, we should attribute to malice what is perfectly explained by stupidity.
As Socrates pointed out twenty five hundred years ago, ignorance is the ultimate evil and, thus, an unexamined life is not worth living.
The more we open our mind/heart, the more we realize how much more we need to continue to do so!
JC Wandemberg Ph.D.
President & Founder
About the author: Dr. Wandemberg is an international consultant and stocks trader, keynote speaker, published author, professor, and analyst of economic, environmental, social, managerial, marketing, and political issues. For the past 30 years Dr. Wandemberg has collaborated with corporations, communities, and organizations to integrate sustainability through self-transformation processes and Open Systems Design Principles, thus, catalyzing a Culture of Trust, Transparency, and Integrity.