Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ignorance is bliss.

This picture seems to be doing the rounds which shows protesters in San Francisco protesting against the Chinese Olympics. It's all about Tibet this time as it seems Iraq is a lost cause.

The supporting documentation is that these protesters are unintelligent. Although it was funny and that was my first thought when I read this on Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe. Read here.

Well I'm not sure it can be put down to stupidity, although it is San Francisco and it can't be discounted, I think it is more to do with ignorance. The difference being is that there may be simple facts that you are unaware of as I keep on saying when I put my foot in it over something I don't know is 'You don't know what you don't know.' I think it's more down to our current namby pamby educational system that gaffes like this are not unusual. Let's face it you would have thought that at least one of these protesters had a smidgen of history knowledge. Jeez, I hate history and just know the basics but I know all about Jesse Owens and Hitler in the late 1930 something.

Every day we get facts and opinions from one side of the story only. There are facts, opinions and logic to back it up and we believe it because we respect the person and their opinion and/or we process the facts ourselves. Yet, many times we get lied to and facts withheld so without gathering the other side of the story we pronounce judgement and act. It's puzzling in a way as people who are very intelligent and normally you would expect to be wary fall into this trap as easily as the truly unintelligent. Thus injustices are done so it's lucky for all of us that in the court systems we are able to answer our accusers and they have to make their accusations public. In our private and business lives we are not so lucky.

Today I bumped into an old acquaintance whilst out voting. I didn't like him much as I knew he beat his wife and kids and did until the kids had grown up and left home then he ended up kicked out and divorced. His ex wife was a friend of my ex wife so I got all the gossip at the time. All the emotional stuff and the innuendos and so I built up my impression of him and thus he was never invited around and when I met him it was simple politeness and no more than that for years. After the divorce he moved away but kept in touch with the kids. As his kids were just older than mine they stayed locally although I never really saw them again although my kids talk to them occasionally.

About a year later the real story came out when she was arrested and charged with assault and boy, did the truth come out, the story told by the kids was slightly different to the original stories. All the facts were there but for one teensy weensy difference as it was his wife that has been beating him and the kids. He was the protector and that was why he remained and only left when the last one had safely gone. She had of course been spreading the story about him being the wife and kid beater via the women's network, a faster and more efficient method of local data transmission will not be created in my lifetime, and he had been hated for nearly two decades by all except his kids. How devastating must that have been? I can't imagine it.

Of course then all the inconsistencies and doubts were voiced with people then saying I never believed her and they knew something was not right. The stories of the woman excessively smacking the kids was then spread around by those that thought it was OTT at the time but never mentioned it. The injustice to the poor guy was never raised and when it was mentioned by a third party it was simply brushed off with silence and shrugs. People met him when he came back to see his kids and simply avoided him, ignored him or were simply polite. Guilt meant they couldn't go further. I thought it was terrible that now that they knew the facts they just brushed them away and were now away on another subject without a care in the world. An injustice that would not be corrected even assuming of course that two decades of injustice could be corrected by a simple apology or acknowledgement.

So today I made a point of being friendly and asking him how it was doing. He talked about the past and mentioned that after the court case he had returned to the area. He seemed amused that I was talking to him and in the end I just apologised to him for my thoughts with no real evidence on hearsay. He accepted it in good humour but clearly had no real interest as that time had past and he had already accepted it. He did tell me one thing though. He was not aware that he was known as a wife beater until the court case when someone had dropped it in conversation about how he must have been a saint not to tell the truth and correct the misapprehension. It's the usual case of the unfaithful husband where everyone knows except the wife as no one want to be the bringer of bad news. So not knowing meant that he was unable to defend himself until it was irrelevant. What can you do? You hear someone is a wife beater but you can't say anything to them as you cannot do anything except vent and then he would go back and beat her for talking. Or so you think. He understood all of this.

Ignorance is undoubtedly bliss. It's the transition to awareness that is the problem. You suddenly discover something that you knew to be fact is suddenly totally and utterly wrong. It's like discovering Gordo is really a financial genius or the climate change theory is true. It's a massive shock. To discover someone is unfaithful, your child/other half is a killer or rapist, you are suddenly penniless because your other half has gambled all your money away or you are falsely accused of something serious. Some of these could have been resolved if only someone had told you early enough but nobody wants to really get involved. Happy to gossip and spread the story though.

Well, I am one of those people that don't like to get involved. I still am despite what I believe because I have not yet worked out a way to broach subjects like this with others without some element of risk. How do you tell someone that their wife/husband is unfaithful unless you are really, really close to them prior to the situation? What if you are wrong? What if they don't believe you and put motives on your actions? Why should you when you really don't know the person anyway? It's just gossip so best to ignore and thus the false rumours spread further without any resistance so they must be true because, well, everyone knows, it's common knowledge. There always seems to be someone as well who is more than willing to stir the pot a little as well and encourage and enhance the rumours. It's a hobby I suppose when you get fed up being an unloved housewife. Being at the centre of a scandal is exciting and brings Jerry Springer into the real world. Talk about the audience getting into the swing of things.

One of the things I can do though is admit when I am wrong, apologise, if possible, and try to put it in the past. If they can't then I shrug and accept it. This guy had no previous relationship or bond and we parted with a simple goodbye and lets face it he was still a wife beater, oh wait he wasn't, it is difficult to forget these things you believed for so long. Anyway an injustice righted as much as I can but it will never be right. He is probably a good guy but I will never know. I do feel guilty though about it although I never spread any of the rumours myself although I will just drop it as a lesson learnt.

Now, how do I tell the recently arrived next door neighbour his wife appears to be having an affair and the single guy at the bottom of the street he is viewed as a pedophile because he smiles and says hello to the kids? Both current rumours doing the rounds in our little area. I don't know anything about the woman bar she gets a male visitor every few days when hubby is at work (fact) and the two men never meet (malicious gossip) or the single guy except he lives further down the street (fact), is late 50s (fact), looks strange (malicious gossip), chubby and bearded (fact) and is suspicious enough in attitude to be considered dangerous (malicious gossip). I don't have a problem with talking to close friends though but that is another story.

God knows what they think of me. I'm blissfully ignorant. I'd like to know, wouldn't you?


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