The island of Île aux Cygnes, Paris, France. Island number 20 (out of 100), country number 17 (out of 25), month number 19 (out of 100.)
What is the opposite of enlightening?
That was the thought that hit me as I was trying to walk up to the 22 meter tall replica of the Statue of Liberty that stands at the end of the man-made island Île aux Cygnes (Island of the Swans) in the river Seine in Paris.
I write “trying to walk up” because I was stopped by a large number of French policemen who explained to me that the statue was off-limits for visitors.
Turned out that the American first lady, Mrs Trump, was approaching in a boat to take a peek at the smaller sibling to the more famous statue in New York, so no-one else was allowed near the statue.
The stature is most commonly known as “the Statue of Liberty” but is actually called “Liberty Enlightening the World”.
I find it a bit ironic that I was stopped by armed police to go and look at it because the wife of a man seemingly obsessed with stopping immigrants wanted to go take a look at this symbol of freedom which has greeted immigrants fleeing from oppression for generations.
But I guess it was a very symbolic thing that happened: police restricting the freedom of ordinary people from getting a glimpse of the liberty of enlightening…
We are living in a time:
– Where it is fashionable to be against knowledge – Just 14 per cent of Americans have “a great deal of confidence” in universities. (Source.)
– When it is popular to stand for anti-immigration and fear of foreigners (More than ten countries in Europe now have strong “anti-immigration parties, something that was more or less unthinkable not long ago.)
– Where expertise in out of vogue (A British politician recently said: “people in this country have had enough of experts”. (Source)
We might not yet be living in a new Dark Ages, but I want to say we are living in the Dark Decade.
A time where politicians, and many citizens, seem more interested in pushing an opinion than finding out the truth.
Where people seem less interested in being enlightened and more interested in getting confirmation for what they have already decided to believe.
A time where people are proud to be ignorant.
To be “Ignorant” (according to the dictionary) means: “lacking knowledge or awareness in general.”
But I want to add: “Lacking knowledge or awareness in general AND … lacking any motivation and/or interest to want to fix that.”
And I do not think the opposite of “Ignorant” is “educated” (as my dictionary tells me).
I think the opposite of “Ignorant should be “open to learn”.
There are people who are highly educated – yet frustratingly ignorant, if you ask me. (Some religious fanatics, for example.)
And then there are people with not so much knowledge who I would not call ignorant at all: most children comes to mind with their limited knowledge of things but thirst to learn more about the world.
(Come to think of it, calling yourself “educated” or “knowledgeable” in a way, is being ignorant., as if you have found “the truth”, received “the knowledge”.)
I would like to propose a new word for the curious people in the world who are interested in learning more, the people who want to hear different perspectives, the people who acknowledge that what they know about the world is not the only truth and who wants to learn more, regardless their level of education or knowledge.
An antidote to ignorance.
Let’s call them “The Unignorant”.
Not “The Educated”, not “The Knowledgeable”.
But “The Unignorant”.
The people fighting the “Endarkening” of our world.
Who have not given up on Humanity.
The people who believe in the power of connecting all of mankind and in getting us all working together for a better world by constantly learning from each other and creating better solution as one.
Because we are all living on this very small, little human island called Earth.
And when others are trying to build walls across it. We should work to tear down those walls and instead build understanding.
Understanding between humans. Understanding of the world.
The people who do that are the Unignorant.
Fredrik Haren, aka “The Island Man”, plans to visit 100 islands, in at least 25 countries, on at least 6 continents – in less than 100 months. The purpose of this “World Tour of Islands” is to get a better understanding of the world, a deeper understanding of the people who live here and a broader understanding of life. The island of Île aux Cygnes was island number 20, country number 17 and month number 19. (Countries visited so far: China, Sweden, Maldives, Austria, Nigeria, Vietnam, Egypt, Indonesia, USA, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, India, Mauritius, United Kingdom, Ireland and France.)