I was asked a tough question in a job interview once. I was being interviewed by eight people at one time, with them taking turns asking questions. The last question, asked by a black woman, was, “Everybody has prejudices, what are some of yours?”
Wow. The question left no room for ambiguity. It did not give me the option to say, “I have no prejudices.” She wanted me to admit the ones that I have. I thought for a second then responded with what I am about to tell you now.
My prejudices are not geared towards anyone of a particular race or gender. I am not prejudiced against anyone because of their sexuality or religion. My prejudice is against people who have reached a point in their lives where they have decided they are finished improving. My prejudice is against apathy.
It doesn’t matter if you have a PhD or you are a high school dropout; a business owner or a fast food cashier. No matter your situation in life, you can always improve. There is always something more you can learn. Once you have decided that you are content where you are and have nothing more to gain, that is when society should decide it is finished with you. You are useless because you have become stagnant when your purpose is to grow.
Nelson Mandela was freed after nearly three decades in prison. Where would South Africa be if he decided that simply being free was enough for him? Abraham Lincoln was a successful lawyer and state politician. He could have become content. Where would our nation be if the Great Emancipator had decided to stay in Illinois and never run for president?
There is a doctor out there who might find the cure for Alzheimer’s or cancer, but what if that doctor decides to stop their research? After all, they are already a doctor. They have made it big in life.
Humans are made to strive for intelligence. We are born to innovate. We are supposed to contribute to those around us. First to our families and communities, then to society and humanity as a whole. We do not have time for anyone who thinks they can be finished; for those who think there is nothing more they can learn. Apathy makes you a sleep walker. A failure. If you have reached that point, you are invisible.
It is okay to not know something. What isn’t okay is not knowing something after you have had the opportunity to learn about it. At that point, it is okay to call you ignorant.
- Allen Watson, 2014