cannot resist the invasion of ideas
“One can resist the invasion of an army but one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.”
“Our ideas, like orange-plants, spread out in proportion to the size of the box which imprisons the roots.”
Edward Bulwer Lytton
Well. Whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not, we are all ignorant. Now. Our ignorance can come in a bunch of different sizes – supersized, snack sized and everything in between – and sometimes even selective (know a lot about something and little about other things). That said. We are all ignorant.
Look. It is impossible for us to know everything about everything (let alone even a specific topic), therefore, we have ignorance boxes <different topics> in our heads just sitting around collecting dust waiting to be pulled off the shelf.
Those ignorance boxes are interesting boxes.
They come in different sizes and shapes and depths.
In addition. Ideas are an interesting seed to plant in the ignorance box.
Why? The roots of ideas will inevitably end up in conflict with the box they have been planted in.
That is the inevitability of the invasion of ideas … conflict.
That is the inevitability of the invasion of curiosity … conflict.
One territory, let’s call it ‘the country of what you do not know’, is always being invaded by an army of ideas and thoughts <some true and some untrue>.
Yeah. I focus on invasion because there are winners and losers in this whole ignorance, knowledge, curiosity & ideas battle of which you, yourself, can be victor or vanquished <that is, basically, the battle between ignorance – which suprisingly has a lot of ammunition – and something seeking to kill that particular ignorance>. The only thing you can be sure of is you will always be in conflict and always be at war.
That is one of Life’s biggest truths.
Curiosity comes with a price … and a reward.
I wrote once:
‘far too often we place curiosity in some unequivocal good or bad space … “curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning” or “curiosity killed the cat” … but, truthfully, curiosity embodies both good and bad. And I say that as one who is unequivocally in the camp of “knowing more of anything is good.’
The constant invasion of ideas seems to revolve around two things near and dear to my heart:
- Positive friction.
- Enlightened conflict.
The first is based on curiosity plus friction equals better ideas and thinking. This means the friction has a net positive effect. I could even argue that even bad thoughts that are well thought out and well articulated is positive friction. Ok. I imagine could argue any thinking is better than no thinking.
The second is that any conflict of thought & ideas will enlighten in some form or fashion. I tend to believe the arc of conflict leads to true knowledge. But “arc” is the key word. I think we get a little hasty with regard to people and thinking and this constant war. We forget it is a battle by battle thing and not a ‘battle which embodies the outcome of the war.’ We look at someone who we deem as ‘ignorant’ rather than viewing them in the midst of battle and somewhere on the arc of true knowledge.
I can honestly say there are few people I will not debate with, discuss with or have a discourse with. I will discuss anything with anyone and listen and respond. Yes. I will “go to war” in other words. Yeah. Other than purposeful ignorance I tend to view ignorance as simply the opening gambit in the battle of the day.
And, well, I guess I am definitely a conflict guy <when it comes to ideas and thoughts and issues>.
And I love the thought that I am not actually seeking ideas or ‘working hard to learn’, but rather ideas and thoughts are constantly seeking to make battle with us … constantly invading our space, our ignorance, and … well … we go to this war because it is a war worth fighting. It is a war for knowledge.
I have heard many people say “I want to know everything there is to know on this topic.” I often wonder if they are up for the battle that will need to take place to make that happen. And I am relative;y sure they haven’t really thought through what it would actually take to ‘know everything.’
I know someone can know a lot.
As a corollary.
I absolutely know that you can know enough to be dangerous.
That said. I am 100% unequivocally clear that knowledge is a never ending battle. Even on one topic you probably don’t have enough hours in a lifetime to know everything there is. I guess that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, but suggesting you know everything is not only silly but may actually be a reflection you do not understand the extent of the conflict at hand.
My site is called Enlightened Conflict.
And I do feel as if I am constantly fighting a war and fighting on the side of Truth.
Do I believe I know truth let alone all the truth? Absolutely not.
But. As any warrior would tell you, I get closer to be the best I can be as a warrior every time I fight. It is the conflict which fights ignorance and seeks to enlighten in victory or maybe just survival of the battle of the day.
Maybe that is why the two quotes I opened with interested me.
The conflict of ideas does not have to reside in any open debate. You don’t even need another person. Ideas invade in any number of ways. They plant themselves in boxes you have forgotten you even had. They grow to a point where you cannot ignore them anymore and begin to battle existing ideas you have to get out of the box they were planted in. It becomes a war between what you knew and what you now know.
I would point out that in winning a battle you have destroyed a box and enlightenment occurs. Uhm. but then begins the building of a new box. See. It is a never ending war between what you know and the constant invasion of ideas. It is a worthy war.
“Enlighten the people, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”