Ignorance*

*from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

“ignorant (adj.)

late 14c., “lacking wisdom or knowledge; unaware,” from Old French ignorant (14c.), from Latin ignorantem (nominative ignorans) “not knowing, ignorant,” present participle of ignorare “not to know, to be unacquainted; mistake, misunderstand; take no notice of, pay no attention to,” from assimilated form of in- +Old Latin gnarus “aware, acquainted with” (source also of Classical Latin noscere “to know,” notus “known”)

Form influenced by related Latin ignotus “unknown, strange, unrecognized, unfamiliar.” Colloquial sense of “ill-mannered, uncouth, knowing nothing of good manners” attested by 1886. As a noun, “ignorant person,” from mid-15c. Related: Ignorantly.

From: Educated (2018), by Tara Westover, Chapters 17-20:

“…Something was written under the image in italics but I couldn’t understand it. It had one of those black-hole words, right in the middle, devouring the rest. I’d seen other students ask questions, so I raised my hand.

The professor called on me, and I read the sentence aloud. When I came to the word, I paused. “I don’t know this word,” I said. “What does it mean?”

There was silence. Not a hush, not a muting of the noise, but utter, almost violent, silence. No papers shuffled, no pencils scratched.

The professor’s lips tightened. “Thanks for that,” he said, then returned to his notes…I went straight to the computer lab to look up the word “Holocaust.”

…I was in shock, but whether it was the shock of learning about something horrific, or the shock of learning about my own ignorance, I’m not sure…It made me want to shout at her, at my own mother, and that frightened me.

…I did seem to have a vague knowledge that Jews had been killed somewhere, long ago. But I’d thought it was a small conflict, like the Boston Massacre, which Dad talked about a lot, in which half a dozen people had been martyred by a tyrannical government. To have misunderstood it on this scale – five versus six million – seemed impossible…

…for most of January, I thought Europe was a country, not a continent, so very little of what the professor said made sense…

…I dreamed of Shawn, of finding him lifeless on the asphalt…Suspended between fear of the past and fear of the future, I recorded the dream in my journal. Then, without any explanation, as if the connection between the two were obvious, I wrote, I don’t understand why I wasn’t allowed to get a decent education as a child”

…it was several minutes before I understood that Dr. Kimball didn’t mean Martin Luther, who I had heard of. It took several more minutes for me to connect the name with the image on the screen – of a dark-skinned man standing in front of a white marble temple and surrounded by a vast crowd. I had only just understood who he was and why he was speaking when I was told he had been murdered. I was still ignorant enough to be surprised.

…I had started on a path of awareness, had perceived something elemental…I had discerned the ways in which we had been sculpted by a tradition given to us by others, a tradition of which we were either willfully or accidentally ignorant. I had begun to understand that we had lent our voices to a discourse whose sole purpose was to dehumanise and brutalise others – because nurturing that discourse was easier, because retaining power always feels like the way forward.

I could not have articulated this…I did not have the language I have now…only my ears were different…What they heard was a signal, a call through time, which was answered with a mounting conviction: that never again would I allow myself to be made a foot soldier in a conflict I did not understand.”

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