By Hannah Davis
A few weeks ago, I was approached by an old man at the restaurant I work at. I was chatting with another server as he invaded my personal space.
He grazed my arm with his finger and gave me some generic compliment about my appearance. I just smiled politely and stepped back a few inches, knowing that he and his pals had been drinking wine all night.
He began to tell us about his friends and how they are all “good ol’ Kansas boys” that are “pro-life” and “traditional.” He then asked the other server and me questions about where we grew up and which high schools we attended.
He eventually asked me what I was majoring in. When I hesitated and then stated that I was “undecided” he winked and exclaimed, “So, you’re majoring in finding a rich husband.” I held my tongue as he continued to banter on. Eventually, a few of his friends whisked him away. Once he was gone, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief.
That encounter, though it may seem brief and insignificant, had a profound impact on me. I realized that this man, who I found out later was part of the education system in Johnson County, represented something extremely disturbing. This is a man who holds chauvinistic ideals without knowing he does.
This type of ignorance plagues many Americans, including many members of public office. I probably don’t need to recycle the names Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock to make my point.
I am certainly not saying that anyone who may call him or herself “pro-life” or “traditional” is a chauvinist. I will certainly say, however, that in my non-scientific analysis as a 20-year-old woman that seems to be the observable trend.
I grew up in a very religious home. This religious home was also a very conservative one. I spent many evenings watching programs such as Hannity & Colmes and The O’Reilly Factor with my dad. I spent three hours at church every Sunday. I spent many hours fiercely defending right-leaning ideals that I did not know a thing about. One of these ideals happened to be that a sperm cell plus an ovum equaled, without a doubt, a sacred life of a human-being. I believed a lot of things then that I do not now.
As I matured, I realized that there was a difference between what I knew and what I believed. And ironically, that realization drastically changed my beliefs. I opened my eyes to the world around me, and I realized, with my chin a little lower, that I knew very little.
Joni Mitchell wrote, “Good or bad, we think we know, as if thinking makes things so. All convictions grow along a borderline.”
People’s beliefs will always differ from one another. Our beliefs, however, should determine our personal choices and actions, not public policy. If you believe that abortion is a sin, don’t have one. If you believe that gay marriage is wrong, don’t marry someone who has the same sex organs that you have. And if you believe that an omniscient being will sort everyone into the good place or the bad place, don’t worry about what other people are doing because you believe it’s already taken care of.
Ignorance fiercely plagues this country, and it needs to be defeated. Women should have equal pay for equal work, gays and lesbians should be able to get married and marijuana should be legalized.
Ignorance fuels oppression. Knowledge fuels freedom. Let’s labor towards freedom.
Contact Hannah Davis, news editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.