Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Avoiding Ignorant Speech

Many times we find ourselves listening to people speak on certain topics as though they were experts. Then, about half-way through their soliloquy, we realize they have no credentials to speak on this particular topic. That is not to say that they are not educated or knowledgeable about a great many other things, but only to say that they have stepped beyond their boundaries.

If you follow blogs or the news, you know that many people have been writing about Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy today. I will not. The reason I will refrain from writing about Senator Kennedy is not because he is unworthy. In fact, he did a great many things that should be recognized. The reason I will not write about him is this simple fact: I do not know enough about him to speak intelligently.

Particularly in blogs, but in other media as well, I have found this trend of talking about that which we have no true knowledge to be growing. Everyone wants to put in their opinions, when really they do not know the basic facts. For example, take the recent town hall meetings on health care. These meetings have been extremely passionate to say the least. However, President Obama did make a good point in one of his meetings. He asked how many people in the audience had Medicare. A good portion of those people raised their hands. Then he asked how many of those people were satisfied with their health insurance. A good majority of those people raised their hands. Then, he asked how many people would support some sort of government health care plan. Only a couple people in the audience raised their hands. What those people in the audience did not realize is that many of them are already on a government health care plan, Medicare, and they were satisfied with it.

Now a government health care option may not be good for the United States at this time. There are obviously some difficulties with it. But people need to stop speaking on that which they have no knowledge. I feel like what we are sometimes experiencing in our never-ending stretch for democracy is what is known as "ignorance of the masses."

I have just come from a discussion on Jane Austen's Persuasion, and one of the main points my professor made was that the main character Anne Elliot is to be admired because she attempts to see herself as no more than she truly is. She does not pretend she is any smarter or more important than she actually is. While this mindset is quite foreign to our way of thinking, there is something to be admired about it. By admitting to our shortcomings, we are more willing to listen and learn from those that excel in that particular area. After all, it is only by owning to our cracks that we are able to fill them and seal them shut.

So there you have it. I will not comment on the life of Senator Edward Kennedy except to give my condolences to all his friends and family. Beyond that I will not say another word as it would be beyond my true abilities and imprudent for me to do so.

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