You Are What You Think

Members of ACTBAC and protesters face off at McCorkle Place on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, Thursday, August 30, 2018 during a rally to commemorate the Confederate statue known as Silent Sam by the Alamance County based group.

You are what you think and you think what you know but we don’t know what we don’t know.

Have you ever thought about what you do know and how that governs what you do? What if what we think we know isn’t the whole story? In the absence of knowledge what fills in the void?

Our actions and behaviors are governed by what we think we know to be true or what we want to be true. Most people will defend their own ignorance out of a fear of being ignorant. Instead of attacking their knowledge-base perhaps we should add to it with the truth. You can’t expect people to know the truth unless they know the whole truth. When someone testifies on the witness stand they are asked to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Why? It’s probably pretty evident but imagine the verdicts that are falsely reached based on incomplete or erroneous evidence and testimonies. The jury’s actions are governed by what they “know”.

As Mark Twain once said, “Never let truth get in the way of a good story.” It’s easier to be governed by passion than logic. The truth is usually uncomfortable but that’s okay. It’s what moves us forward, out of our comfort zones, and into a greater level of awareness and empathy.

Most people mean well but they just don’t know any better. You’ve probably heard a variation of that expression but perhaps it has greater meaning now. Why do people do the things they do it’s because they work on incomplete information. It’s our jobs to exercise patience and compassion to help people bridge that gap. Attacking their ignorance won’t make a bit of difference except to further entrench them into their position.

Teachers are the great guardians of knowledge and they get to choose what is admissible in their classroom. They work to create an environment that is conducive to learning by taking away the distractions (what isn’t needed) so their students can focus on what is essential. However, what the teacher themselves brings, in their minds and hearts, to the classroom is critical to what will shape their students. We expect the highest standard from them but do we hold ourselves to that same standard when the students return home or see each other in our daily interactions?

If anger, hate, and bias seeps into our minds. If we make excuses to defend our ignorance then we probably have a knowledge-gap that needs to be filled or bridged.