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Ignorance 2

According to statistics, nearly 90% of the people in Canada have at least a secondary school diploma.  25% of them also have a university degree.  It seems that education is the key to success; at least, this is the ideology that leaders advocate in the developed countries and, people in the developed countries are becoming successful.

At the same time, hate crime in Great Britain is on the rise, mass shooting in the U. S. are becoming an everyday phenomenon, terrorists are murdering people they do not like, one in four women are raped or assaulted at least once in her life and one in five children are abused.  Do these two set of statistics tell a story about the link between education and ignorance?

It appears that despite the effort to educate people at a very high and sophisticated level, people are not getting enlightened.  At least, they are not getting enlightened at the rate of their educational level.  Educated people still become terrorists, mass shooters, murderers, rapists and abusers.  It very much looks like that education by itself will not eradicate the human ignorant ways of existing and embrace better and more enlightened ways of living.

Is there anything missing besides the need for higher and more sophisticated education?   Firstly, there may be a problem with the current education system itself.  Human beings seem to be more career-oriented than ever before.  This means that they go to school to get a great job.  Unfortunately, these career-oriented educational practices do not include a path on becoming enlightened human beings.  Enlightenment often arises from self-reflection, reflection of the great questions of life, learning from the past and from human behavior and, thinking critically and with fresh perspectives on ideas.  Generally, education in philosophy, psychology, history, literature, mythology, spirituality, anthropology and related fields are fertile grounds for human wisdom.  But, education, as it stands today, is not oriented toward the attainment of enlightenment and the cherishment of human wisdom.  Simply, the career-oriented education system does not have the right quality to eradicate human ignorance anymore.

Secondly, education itself is not enough to get rid of the ignorant ways of existing.  Something more is needed.  What is this something more?  It is a deep sense of morality.  This does not mean a religiously prescribed and memorized list of right and wrong doings.  Anyone can memorize a laundry list and rehash it at the request of authority.  It is more than just this simplified version of morality that is missing.  The morality that is missing is a deep sense of appreciation for the beauty and value of life, human freedom to choose and, the mystery of the presence of this universe and Mother Earth in it.  Many human beings are unable to be humble enough to appreciate the magnificence of it all and properly respect it.  The magnificence can be seen in the eyes of a small child, the loving smile of an adult, the playfulness of an animal, the flames of a wood-burning fireplace or the shining moon and stars.  The appreciation of the importance of this magnificent presence is the moral component that seems to be missing.  It is neglected in favour of attaining a career, gaining approval from others, hoarding wealth and getting into the position of power and control over other human beings.  Thus, this deep sense of morality is not present in human beings.

Is there any way to encourage people to develop this deep sense of morality?  Firstly, educational institutions can be inspirited to return to their roots of providing enlightenment and wisdom, as opposed to offering just a career.  Secondly, human beings could aspire to achieve more, not in a material sense, but in a sense of becoming more reflective, sensitive and contemplative beings.  They can learn about who they are and what is important.  In the absence of this, fear dictates people’s behavior.  For example, a mother may try to force her daughter to dress in a particular way, to attend particular religious or social gatherings and control the type of young men she is allowed to see.  She does this out of love.  However, this love is often times based on fear of the world; the projected fear of what could happen to the young woman with scary people out there.  It is natural to try to protect someone.  However, this protection can end up stifling the development and curiosity of young people.  The chains a parent creates can cause fear, depression and a sense of imprisonment.  The solution is for the parent to reflect on the fear and put it into proper perspective in order to relate to others better, including her child.  A more reflective, sensitive and contemplative being is able to see the world and people in it in a clearer way.  This can lead to greater openness, trust and happiness.

People can become more and they should strive to be more.  They need to turn inward and work on themselves to eliminate the unnecessary fears.  They need to care about who and what they are.  Better education helps, but it is not enough.  People need to make an effort to work on themselves to become more enlightened, wiser individuals.  They need to do all this to have any hope of shedding their ignorant ways.  The best news is: it does not cost any money.  All it takes is a few minutes of honest engagement with the self to start the process.

M. J. Mandoki