This has been a repeating theme over the last few weeks. Just because you didn’t know about something doesn’t make it new. It is new to you. Yes. This doesn’t mean it is new to the world.
It is our responsibility to work on self awareness to the point that we can identify three things…
1) what do I know
2) what do I know I don’t know
3) what don’t I know I don’t know
People didn’t know that Caitlyn Jenner was going to happen let alone be the cover of a popular magazine. The photographers and stylists were told that they would be working with a very tall person. Now, they know. Oh.
There is WAY more information that we don’t know we don’t know that even the information that we know we don’t know. This is something we must get comfortable with. June 5th, on CSPANs Washington Journal, Mara Keisling, Executive Director of The National Center for Transgender Equality, was asked about who actually wrote the laws about the use of tax payers dollars paying for the medical needs of those in prison, her answer wasn’t intended to be snarky – it is true. The answer is Thomas Jefferson.
My suggestion is to approach something new with an attitude that it is new to you – and perhaps not new to others. Our entitlement to know everything is really a great moment to practice taking responsibility for our privileges. When you ask yourself (or others) “Why didn’t I know about this?” Perhaps take a second to give yourself some space to breathe and reality that you were ignorant to something and now have a moment to become less ignorant. Being ignorant doesn’t immediately equate to being hateful – that is up to how we react to our new found ignorance. Try to respond (at first or second) with, “Huh, I didn’t know that.” It is a calmer place to enter into a learning moment or even a conversation.
We use this same skill in other cases where there is “less on the line.” Like – when you meet someone that mentions a certain date and you immediately share that the same date is also your cousin’s birthday! How exciting – neither of you knew that before right then. And, let’s be honest, it usually doesn’t matter after that moment. We are ok, not knowing everything until we come to a situation where we feel like we are supposed to know everything. Bonus – we can control this reaction.
If you get a chance – watch the whole 30 minutes program – it might be educational for you if not helpful for you when educating someone else about this new topic for some. Plus, when in doubt, just blame Thomas Jefferson.