Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — When you talk, text and otherwise communicate as often as the average adult does on a daily basis you are bound to say a few things you wish you could take back.
Maybe you found out your partner's father is a diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan, shortly after talking smack about how you hate the Chiefs. Maybe you were making an overly broad and poorly researched statement about how President Obama is incompetent/a genius only to find out that the other people at this dinner party feel differently.
Most of us take these moments as small embarrassments and accept some social chastisement, move on and try to think a little bit longer before we speak the next time. I have a confession, I am just like you.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article that talked about how with DVR and cell phones, we basically live in the future (‘Success in the Face of Inconvenience, (6/15/2012). In this article I made the comment; “With all due respect to our Amish and Mennonite brothers, the vast majority of us are living in the most convenient times in our history.” At the time I though very little of these twenty-five words. I threw in “with all due respect…” to make sure there was no confusing it to think I had any negative feelings or meant any disrespect and I moved on.
A short time later when checking the e-mail I use for all of your fan mail/topic suggestions/rants I came across one that politely informed me that my broad generalization about Mennonites, or more broadly, Christian Anabaptists was at best, over-simple.
According to Wikipedia, “Mennonite congregations worldwide embody the full scope of Mennonite practice from "plain people" (characterized by separation from the world and simple living) to those who are indistinguishable in dress and appearance from the general population.” It turns out I know very little about Mennonite culture and traditions. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I actually know very little about a lot of things.
With all of the time I spend writing about the information age, internet access and the ease of learning this day and age; it’s surprising how little people, myself included, actually use all of these resources to gain any real knowledge. Sure, I’ve done a quick wiki search to see if actor Jonah Hill was in the 2004 Mark Wahlberg vehicle ‘I Heart Huckabees’ (he is), but how many times have I searched to find out the what the deal is with the Muslim Hijab, or why all of my Jewish friends get a free vacation day in September (Yom Kippur), or what an El Niño really is (hint, it’s a quasi-periodic climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean roughly every five years).
Some of you may think I am taking what was a polite and informative e-mail about in response to a lack of knowledge on my part a little too seriously, overreacting even in an attempt to be politically correct. But being politically correct for political correctness sake isn’t the goal; it’s taking the time and making an effort to really understand the people, cultures and things around us. So I apologize for any of the groups I may have offended in my asides or dust-offs, from moms and Mennonites to people who tweet too much and Civil War reenactors representing the Confederacy. It’s all jokes and it’s all in good fun. I promise, I’m trying to learn as much as I can, but sometimes, even Wikpedia makes mistakes.
Vincent Davis II is a Cornell graduate, DJ, and market development specialist in the IT industry. His column appears on the second and fourth Friday of every month. He can be contacted at email@example.com.