The Responsibility of Ignorance

I am here in a beautiful hotel lobby, a glazing morning light is glimmering through the wide windows, and a stunning white Steinberg piano is the centerpiece of the room. I like music, I enjoy listening to classical music, and I took some lessons back in the days. I am staring at that piano for quite some time now, but I don’t think I will ever sit and play it.

I know it is in tune, last night someone was playing it. I have a few basics on how to compose simple chords and probably with a little bit of courage I would be able to pull off a decent tune.

Nevertheless, I’m not going to play it.

Musical instruments have these effects; they tend to be intimidatory, and the special halo of a masterpiece of crafting like a full piano is especially difficult to overcome.

Playing this piano would expose the weakness of my musical preparation. It would clearly show I never did it before, and all of this for a temporary amusement, a fulfillment of my curiosity and a few annoyed guests around the lobby.

Am I self-censoring my right of expression? I don’t think so. It’s just common sense. I can go studying music at home, I can go to a shop and try many different pianos, invest months in getting fluent. Then I can eventually come back here and pull off an easy tune without making a fool of myself. Again, common sense.

How many of you would disagree on this?

Get the basics, work hard, get fluent. Pretty reasonable, isn’t it?

So why don’t we apply the same process to ourselves on other aspects of our life?

Sometimes we give medical advice to our friends. Other times we have strong opinions on topics we don’t understand. We often follow beliefs we don’t fully have a grasp on, just because it always happened to be so.

I’m not saying we should not practice our right to express ourselves, but ignorance is a responsibility we should take more seriously.

“Not ignorance, but ignorance of ignorance is the death of knowledge.”

said Alfred North Whitehead. I have no idea who he was, and I copy/pasted this quote from a random site I just found. Maybe I should go and play that piano, there are just black and white keys, it shouldn’t be too difficult to play. Right?

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