Sunday, November 6, 2011

Two Evil Sisters

I was just reading an amazing post by Caro at

It caused me to begin to ramble in a comment there, and I got a grip on myself, and said I'd continue here.

Here is part of my comment:
  • I’ll try to pull it together for a moment. I HATE HATE Selective Ignorance (let’s call it SI). Also Deliberate Naivety, her prim, passive-aggressive stepsister. HATES them. So very many wrongs are committed by them. 

    In Caro's case, she's referring to eating meat.  The fact that up until now, she has ignored what happens (the inhumane treatment of animals, the slaughter, and so on) so that she can eat meat.

    Now, I'm no vegetarian.  (But after seeing the picture of the most adorable piglet EVER on her blog, it makes me wish I had the necessary gumption).  But.

    I DO HATE Selective Ignorance and Deliberate Naivety.

    So many people put on the cheap blonde wigs of S.I. and D.N. and do terrible, stupid, unkind, thoughtless things.  "What?  Nobody TOLD me that I was supposed to put oil in the car!" "How was I supposed to know that by drinking the entire last 1/4 of a gallon of milk, nobody else would get any?"
    "No, I had no IDEA that my next-door neighbor needed help raking her lawn.  She's only 98! Perfectly healthy!"
    "Well, I'm sure someone is working to solve that pesky climate change issue.  If it is real."

    Selective ignorance occurs on large and small scales, from "don't know how to load the dishwasher" to "Genital mutilation? It's a myth, and if it exists, it's cultural!"

    Deliberate Naivety is more subtle.  I see it a lot in women of a certain age who act like they are completely incapable of handling any thought or decision-making outside the scope of their own home.  "Oh, politics?  Too complicated for me.  I just vote like my husband does."  Or, "I only read books from the 'Christian Fiction' section.  I don't want to risk running into (whispering) sex scenes."

    A lot of children and young adults exhibit this too.  In combination with S.I., you will see evidence of this when a high schooler is asked a question, say, in History class, and they claim to never have heard of something.  However, that very thing was covered in English class and in Science.  But they don't seem to realize that it's ok to integrate their knowledge.

    What can we do?

    I tend to challenge these kids directly.  "Really?  Are you quite sure you don't know?  I'll bet you can figure it out. Think again!"
    The adults I tend to dismiss.  If a person is choosing to close their mental eyes, to stick their head under the sand of stupid, there's not much I can think of to say.  If I encourage them to think harder, to make their own decisions, it often comes off as me challenging their beliefs.  If I act skeptical that they really don't know something, it is condescending and rude. 

    Honestly, I tend to just smile, raise my eyebrows, pick up my drink and head for the next person over.

    I don't mean to be superior.  I don't want to be.  But I just don't know how to rise above, here.


    Anonymous said...

    Thank you so much for sharing with me your own unraveling of the ugly twin sisters, as you call them (love the name, btw!)

    You're right, it's a tough one because chosen ignorance is so comfortable and easy: No need to think or analyze, let alone having to make mature decisions. It's an ugly reality in my opinion, and I think it suits best those who are merely existing, thus not really living.

    I'm alive! I want to shout it from the mountaintops and for the world to know. And the best way of honoring my life is waking up, confronting my conformity and saying to it- Not anymore.

    Big hugs to ya, Kate.


    Aunt Snow said...

    This one is percolating with me. I immediately flashed to a person I spend a lot of time with who does this, and I felt all vindicated by having the phrases to use for her.

    Then I realized those phrases might equally be used to describe me.