Monday, December 29, 2014

The Foolishness and Arrogance of Ignorance

I have an unusual tool that I bought over 50 years ago and it has NEVER been used. When I was in junior high school I needed to buy some drafting tools for a mechanical drawing class. The sales clerk helped me assemble everything I would need; the drawing board, T-square, triangles, mechanical pencils and, finally, one of those three-sided, twelve-inch rulers - the architectural scale. Most of them that he showed me were made of white plastic but I picked out a nice looking wooden one from the display cabinet and said, “I’ll take that one.”

“No, you need one of these,” he said as he kept pushing a white plastic one into my hand.  But I liked the one I picked and I was going to buy it.  He tried several times to tell me that what I had was an engineer's scale.

Engineer; architect, “Yeah, whatever!” I replied sarcastically.  I didn’t know why he was arguing with me over semantics.  After all, he was just a dumb sales clerk but I was the drafting student and I knew that those three-sided rulers where architectural scales.  He finally let me have it my way and he rang up my order.

When I got home and laid out my tools, I mounted some drafting paper to my new drawing board and began to draw.  That's when I realized that an engineering scale is NOT an architectural scale. Nothing on that scale was useable to me. It cost me several dollars to learn, the hard way, that I don’t know everything.

Sometimes people who have been “around the block’ a few more times try to warn us or save us some grief.  But we ignore them and insist on doing our own thing. Or someone tries to tell us something and we think we know better so we don’t listen. And when that happens, those people will often just quietly back off and let us suffer the consequences of our foolishness.

I keep that scale around to remind me to listen to the voices of reason and experience instead of just assuming I know it all.

“Any man who understands his own foolishness is already a little wise.” Jewish Proverb


Ron Livesay said...

You mean teenagers and college students don't know everything? I thought maybe they did. I had the following experience which is copied from one of my own blog posts:

Once when I was on our school campus after hours, there were three young teenagers, not students at our school, out on the parking lot riding their skateboards. I went out and politely pointed out the posted sign that reflected our policy of no skateboards on campus. One of them decided to be the little smart mouth he had obviously, by a lack of discipline, been trained to be. “I’ve been on this earth for fourteen years, and I know my rights. I have a right to be here, and I have a right to ride my board anywhere I want to.” I resisted the impulse to say what I was thinking. Instead I pointed out that they were on private property and were in violation of our rules for those who came on campus. Only after they threatened to bash me with their skateboards and I mentioned calling the sheriff did they reluctantly leave, shouting insults and making obscene gestures as they went.

How's that for an example of those who have been taught to "express themselves" and to "stand up for their rights?"

Ron Livesay said...

I forgot to mention that these young teenagers all had high self-esteem, a positive self-image, and a good self-concept. What else matters? Obviously, it's perfectly fine to be in ignorance as long as the individual feels good about himself. Studies have repeatedly shown that American students rank near the bottom in many academic subjects, but they are consistently number one in "self-esteem."

Pumice said...

Sounds like an investment that keeps on giving.

Grace and peace.