The war against knowledge

New year is the time of mysterious starry silence, the time of contemplation, of hours in which the muddy inner voices of our everyday sorrows fall silent.

Just the logs crackling in the stoves, a cup of tea between your hands, and the blackness of the longest nights above you. May during this time the silence murmurs thoughts more honest than ever. Half a year lays behind our backs, memories were woven and memories were formed, shaping us as we have changed since we first stumbled through our introductory tutorials. This change, the void of the starry silence is revealing to us. Now we find the time to bestow it with our attention. The texts we read formed our imagination, and the people, so wonderful in their variety, reflected onto us our personalities after their manifold understanding. And this inexorably provoked me, my person to grow; when in the past shyness prevented me from developing my own opinions, now I’m aware of my beliefs.

This development is not always a painless one. And it was on me to discover this during Christmas dinner, between meat and wine. The ball of conversation passed between my grandma, my dad, touching grounds of the ordinary, like covid politics and the polarisation of our society. “…and she as well is not vaccinated? But for a yoga teacher… you wouldn’t expect it differently… still a pity it is…” It rolled towards the peculiarities of my grandma’s sexist beliefs expressed in her language use, or the older generations’ considerations about the historical divergence of Europe and China. “… and I always told her… I always did… there is a reason for this orient backlash… and those people are soon taking over… you’ll see…” The ball was tossed and my thoughts rebelled with each match. But my lips stayed sealed. I fought different wars within me. The war of not judging and the war of the feeling of ‘knowing-more’, as I had learned the ‘answers’ to all of their debates. It’s the war of feeling foreign. I never saw the distance between them, and their convictions of right and wrong, and mine so clearly. I never realized what lines different knowledge can draw. Today I’m facing it, in an unseen magnitude.

I’m trying to console myself with those whispering thoughts. “It’s growing up, you know? The process of forming individual opinions.”

But still, I cannot grasp how the world around me, filled with peoples’ opinions vary from mine in such a  drastic manner, why no one reflects on those plain basics of the mechanisms of the world: how economics works, what identity is, and why it contributes to inequality. How can my neighbours whisper to me over the fence “You know a little bit of Hitler wouldn’t be that bad,  right?”?

That’s what our studies are not revealing to us… the secrets I would have needed to know to maneuver through those irritating situations. The past six months did not present the solution to control my fear, my fury, and my urge to not scream to this old hag bag “I would love to see you facing the camps back then”. Arguing as I learned is not the way to go in such debates, as those fights are not about reason, but emotion. And emotion was precisely what those statements evoked in me with a surprising smashing power. I realized I’m growing through Uni as the fertilized ground of into a bubble of discourse in which situations confronting me with pit black conservative nazism seem an impossibility, a belief that is giving birth to intolerance. I’m aware of the atrocities of Hitler, so why can’t you? And why the hell, if I share those insights with you, do you not even want to listen, not even want to be open to my different world views?

Still, we all are facing them, those conversations in which we feel the powerlessness of our different knowledge overwhelming us. I ask why? I ask the silence of the longest nights how to behave, how to handle the growing disparity, that these studies are exposing me to. Is it acceptance of the reasons behind those terrifying statements the solution I long for? Is this the lead to figuring out an approach to sensitize those people for the content of their words? I know the answer I long for is nothing else than the answer to the end of the polarization of our society.

The longer I will stay at these studies and nurse myself with the articles and the community surrounding me, the more the difference between my convictions and theirs will grow. As we become academics, our environment may not. The process of growing I’m already observing will accelerate and the conflict embedded in it, with it. Even though our studies are pushing us, I’m afraid each of us must find the answer within ourselves. aAs there is no universal answer., There never was, as it is was to the process of growing up, growing differently.  

This time they say, this time of the mysterious starry silence, one which will come every once in a while again, this time they say are the hours to contemplate on our unique answers to this war of knowledges.

by Ramona

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Images from Unsplash

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