Confessions of a Journalist: Society’s sophophobia

PHOTO JOHNATHAN ERNST/REUTERS
THE SAME COULD BE SAID … For garbage men, construction workers, short-order cooks … the list could go on, but frankly this t-shirt is an example of sophophobia.

There is a quote often attributed, incorrectly, to Winston Churchill. It would be the one about thinking with your heart as a young adult, and with your head as an older adult.

There is no record of Churchill being ageist when it comes to political stripes and generations, but perhaps that’s the problem with our culture these days.

We want a quick answer to everything. And we’re too lazy to validate quotes for ourselves.

What it boils down to is our capacity for intellectual conversations. I’m not talking about debates, or fighting unnecessarily to prove our points. No, it’s our openness to learn about each other. Or, our fear of learning.

That’s what sophophobia is. It’s an inane fear of education.

I took plenty of anthropology classes in university during my archaeology undergrad. I loved learning about current and past cultures. That could explain why I’ve loved being a journalist for over a decade.

I love hearing other people share their stories, whether they are of survival, overcoming the odds, or simply what makes them do what they do (artistically, or athletically).

That comes from an interest in learning.

A university education is one thing, and the School of Hard Knocks is another. But together, they are the best education one can get about life, because the more you know, the better equipped you are to handle the world around you.

For me, I find I’m more aware of the diversity around me because that is what my career has bestowed me.

The greatest point of growth was directly after university. I had shed that academic cocoon and was flitting about in my imago state. Sure, I absorbed a lot from university, but trying to find my way in the real world, an uncaring, Hoth-like planet, is not something theories can give answers to.

Add to that my experiences as a journalist, from doing yoga with Trish Stratus to talking anthropology with Jane Goodall, I’ve been able to learn plenty.

Unfortunately ignorance, whether eschewed by the champagne socialists, or redneck proletariat, is constant. Both extremes are guilty of being assholes to those just trying to make life easier for themselves.

The urban dwellers with their mighty bubble of academia don’t even begin to comprehend the working class. And often times the working class doesn’t validate those hoity-toity types. And we have that clichéd vicious cycle.

I don’t profess to be academic. I have a casual language that comes from being raised in a blue-collar household, but educated in one of the world’s most respected universities. I bandy about a fresh list of obscenities, but I can also ramp up the pretentious talk if I should feel obliged.

It took me a while to hone my skills, but they’re skills that had their origins in me sitting by an atlas, writing stories about faraway lands. Learning in small increments about the world around me.

Journalism, to me, is a way to educate the public. You’d be a fool to just stick with one paper or media company, because much like mixed martial arts, you fight better when you know all angles. Thank Laozi for that.

The Taoist philosopher had written in Chapter 33 of the Tao Te Ching, “Knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom.”

That explains my fascination with the unknown. That explains my thirst for learning about other cultures. That explains my desire to share other experiences.

Sure I can have opinions, but it is our experiences and the experiences of others that shape the way we see the world. The more we know, and the more we read from a variety of sources, the less room we have for ignorance.

 

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About the author

Toronto-based journalist, fighting the power one deadline at a time.

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