Inoculating Ourselves Against Ignorance

Anna-Marie AshtonArticles

Inoculating Ourselves Against Ignorance

by Natalie Muyres

We recently kicked off our ninth Human Venture Leadership Alumni Program. The Alumni Program provides us an opportunity to support each other’s learning, and work harder toinoculate ourselves against ignorance. Like our immune systems need exposure to viruses to create antibodies, our community requires ongoing exposure to a steady diet of significant life challenges and great adaptive resources as a way to develop the antibodies required to push back ignorance and error.

Our immune systems are constantly detecting and correcting for breaches to our health. Whether we are affected by a virus, bacteria or a major wound, our immune system goes to work immediately to resolve the situation and restore our health. A highly intelligent network, our immune system operates independently and is constantly at work; from our skin, to mucous membranes and stomach acid, defenses are always active. The immune system is designed to mobilize and overwhelm the invader and push it out. Interestingly, we’re not born with our immune system intact. It’s developed through ongoing exposure to toxins, either naturally or deliberately, like vaccinations; it’s learning all the time! Vaccines are used to create antibody memories for specific antigens or toxins, so the body can have an immune response and fight to eliminate the toxin when exposed. To wipe out or stop a virus, you need herd immunity, which means a high proportion of the population are immune to the disease.

Near the end of his life, Louis Pasteur, the scientist who discovered germ theory, said, “The germ is nothing, the terrain is everything” Like ignorance, viruses require habitats and environments to thrive. This is critical to understanding the systemic nature of ignorance. We are our environment – we’re a product of our culture. Like the spread of germs in unsanitary environments, unhealthy thinking, caring and acting spreads ignorance and cultivates toxic cultures. We need to develop and support our collective immunity by cultivating an environment for empowering, responsible and wise learning.

Our programs and learning community help us to get our existential immune systems fired up and identifying areas of ignorance, as though they are viruses. Our community works as a network to gather intelligence, detect and correct all forms of ignorance. Like our bodies are constantly learning and pushing out viruses, we need our community to support our mutual learning and capacity development in order to push back ignorance. As we are exposed to sources of ignorance, we work to create memories that will better help us detect, correct, anticipate and prevent the ignorance – to reduce waste, suffering and injustice.

Like viruses, ignorance is adapting and immunity does not last a lifetime. Our everydayism can erode our learning and distract us, so we need to come back to our learning and be aware of our changing ignorance. We need to eradicate forms of ignorance through our own herd immunity – it’s why we need more of the population developing the adaptive capacities to push back the boundaries of ignorance and error.