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Innocence vs. Ignorance

January 5, 2018

 

 

In the movie Batman vs Superman, one of the characters says, "Ignorance is not the same as innocence." And many might find this very interesting, maybe even profound.

However, ignorance and innocence both denote a lack of knowledge on the part of the person in question. And whether it is considered to be  ignorance or innocence is based on how it is perceived by another person. Generally, "innocence" is considered child-like and pure and even something that people indulge the other in - hence pardonable; ignorance considered as carelessness - hence punishable and frowned down upon.

 

In law the maxim is "Ignorancia juris non excusat" which means "Ignorance of law is no excuse." Here the law is very clear - whether ignorance or innocence, punishment will be meted out.

This article is not about legalities or justice. This is about one-to-one relationships, especially close ones. In these,  you could "choose" appropriately, to consider all ignorance as innocence. And once you choose to consider it so, you could also take on the responsibility to inspire them to learn. That is, provided you care that the other person learns. 

 

And in doing so, you will act as a "Gu Ru" - who helps another move from darkness to light - the Illuminator!


गुशब्दस्त्वन्धकारः स्यात्‌ रुशब्दस्तन्निरोधकः।

अन्धकारनिरोधित्वात्‌ गुरुरित्यभिधीयते॥ १६॥

The syllable gu means darkness, the syllable ru, one who dispels them,
Because of the power to dispel darkness, the guru is thus named.
— Advayataraka Upanishad, Verse 16

 

This does not mean that repeated acts, or those done wilfully, are to be considered as innocence. This might be descriptive of a lack of care, or maybe difficulty in learning. This again needs to be considered subjectively. It might still be worthwhile to give the other person the benefit of the doubt.  Along with that you still take on the responsibility of inspiring the other person to learn, and to become better. And if that other person matters, then all the more reason to take on this arduous responsibility. 

 

It might be worthwhile for you to pause a little now, and look back at some of your own relationships - where you might have felt that another person has acted carelessly or ignorantly. Think a little more about whether you a