There's nothing like having your own ignorance brought to your attention to make you start thinking of the implications of that which caused your lack of knowledge. The first thing I do after being corrected or being informed is try and figure out why it was I didn't know that information.
Usually it’s something as trivial as not having been exposed to the knowledge; I can live with that, because it is something that can be easily corrected. Other times it's because of prejudice on my part, where I've let my political beliefs colour my judgement. That pisses me off a lot, because I like to think that I don't let ideology cloud my thinking.
But as far as I'm concerned neither one of those are a big deal when compared to the third reason. Either studying or giving other ideas closer consideration easily corrects those two problems. No, the one that bothers me the most is when my ignorance is born of circumstances created by the forces of history and other events beyond my control.
I suppose I should cite an example in order to clarify what I'm talking about. The simplest thing to do would be to use the circumstances that made me think of this.
For the past few months I have been a member of a Yahoo group called Epic India. This is a group that was formed to discuss the works of the Indian author Ashok Banker. Mr. Banker has taken upon himself the mammoth task of creating modern English adaptations of all the great Epic stories of India.
He has finished work on his first effort, a six volume retelling of the three thousand year old Ramayana (all six volumes are in the hands of the publishers more or less, with volume five in the stores now and six to be released in the near future). His next project, which he has already begun work on, is to be a ten volume retelling of The Mahabharata.
In a recent e-mail to the group, Ashok gave us a link to see a map of what he said was somewhere named Bharat during the time period of The Mahabharata. Being the observant fellow I am, I noticed the inclusion of the word Bharat within the title of the epic. Hmm I wondered, is there a connection, and if so what?
Bharat is the Indian word for India. India is a mispronunciation of Sindhu, which was the name of the great river that the British mispronounced “Indus” and later adopted as the country’s name, India …Maha means ‘great’. So the epic’s name literally means ‘Great Bharata’… Ashok Banker letter 2006
Hands up everybody who is not of Indian heritage who knew that the British had renamed the country by mispronouncing the name of a river? It's things like this that have inspired Mr. Banker's attempts to retell the stories of India from an Indian perspective instead of the one that dominates the history books of the world.