A few weeks ago I wrote a post on Facebook about the Take a Knee protest. I got a lot of negative feedback, mainly from family, and a common theme of the responses was that I was ignorant and lacking in experience. That was not the first time I have gotten reactions like that, but this time I started to really question it. I asked myself, 'What is experience and is time equivalent to gaining that experience?' The answer I ended up coming up with is no, and I tend to explain why in this article.
The first thing I thought about was my experience and if I was lacking in some sort of knowledge that I can only get with age. I realize that I am constantly learning, but I also came to the conclusion that I have had a lot more experiences than half my family that was accusing me of being too young to understand. I grew up quickly, because I had to help out with taking care of my grandparents. I went to college and helped to found a chapter of a historical organization. I created panels and events for diversity awareness. I traveled Europe and worked with refugees and learned from their first-hand experience. That is only covering a few things that I have done so far in my life. So how am I lacking experience of the world when I have literally seen the world and had my mind shaped by it?
Secondly, I went on to think about the experiences of other people who are my age. I have learned in college that many people my age grow up quickly. I have learned that people may have hard times, but they are always continuing to fight. Are the people that are my age lacking in experience when they might have had to be an adult since they were six? No, they are not. People gain experience and knowledge from their lives and education, not from their time on Earth. Sure, some things may come with time, but most people learn things at different times in their lives. Therefore, you cannot tell someone they are lacking in experience when you do not know what their lives have been like.
Lastly, I reflected on this question when talking with one of my professors. He gave me another perspective. He told me that family members, no matter how much I argue against them, will always think that I lack experience and that I am ignorant. He suggested for me to explain to them that what they get in experience, I can get from a book, which will help me evolve quicker than they did. He also said that I should feel sorry for them because they are stuck. I agree with him, because a great big chunk of my knowledge is from my education, obviously. I have read so many books in college, and they have helped me to better understand how we got to where we are today, which is why I am better able to shape my ideas to figure out how to move forward. In a way, students today are more experienced than everyone from the generation above us.
"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge."
Experience of adults looks like knowledge, but it really is not. Who is really ignorant then?