I remember going to a party with a friend and she started talking to her friends about their major, a subject about which I know very little. As they were talking, I realized how much I didn't know about the world. I felt awkward (which, some friends would say this is a natural state for me). I was unable to contribute to the conversation except to ask "why?", "what does that mean?", or similar questions. We didn't have time for them to inform me enough where I could formulate an opinion, nor would they have appreciated ending their conversation solely to include me. So, I had to content myself by trying to follow their arguments and fill in the pieces without interrupting the flow of the discussion. My ignorance irritated me.
Yet, it is quite uncomfortable for those who are knowledgeable to be around those who don't understand what they are talking about. As a lot of you know, I am working on a project in which I'm interviewing religious people who are attracted to their same gender in understanding how they reconcile their religion and their attraction. I've learned loads from them, not only about homosexuality, but also general life lessons. But then, I go to class or talk to friends and family who talk about how 'homosexuality' is just a choice of a few rebellious people who are trying to make a statement.
Or that any homosexual can be cured or their attraction can be quieted if they only exerted a little effort.
It really bothers me when people purport to understand other people that they've never met and that they try to group into general categories. Have they really never met someone attracted to their same gender? Just because they share the same attraction type does not mean that they go through the experience in the same way or that there is a "cure-all" or that they even want to be cured. Could it be that they are truly and sincerely fulfilled that way? Who are we to tell them how to live or to suggest that they even have a problem?
But, defending homosexuality is not the point of this post, although I'd do it at any time.What this post is essentially trying to say is that I feel education (both formal and informal) is not only helpful in building character and succeeding in this world, but it is a social responsibility. Think of all the discussions we could have, all the theories we could create, all of the problems we could work on if we all tried to expand our understanding of the world every day.
What I'm attempting to do in Sociology is learn more about how the world works and how people understand their experiences. As this discipline is intimately connected with each one of us, it also connects to the whole world: every field is connected. From anthropology to physics, statistics to economics, art history to psychology. Ignorance in any one of these fields is ignorance in the rest. In order to truly make society grow and become a better place, it is our responsibility to grow, learn, and explore.
In short: I hate feeling awkward. So, I'm going to learn and I expect you to do the same.