“A Lesson on Lessons.” A guest lesson by Hayley Verdeyen.

I think that technology is a majestic, all-powerful beast.

You want to know if it’s raining outside, even though you can see it through your window? Search it on Google. You’re lost on your way to here, there, anywhere? GPS directions will have you and your Subaru’s back. Even to settle a dispute on what show the guy with the weird mustache is from—technology and the internet are always there to help. Sometimes, though, the huge conglomeration of information just a click away is the most overwhelming slap in the face.

Never before have we had such immediate access to our favorite celebrities, foreign cities and facts. We also have never been faced with so many horrible truths. The world we live in—technology driven, fast paced and seemingly unforgiving—is filled with a great deal of beauty, but is sometimes plagued by the injustices that humanity has both created and perpetuated.

Now, I’m not here to spread a cause or damn anyone for their beliefs. I’m simply here to “lesson” you on lessons. What I mean by this is that there is a very simple way to get away from the atrocities and the causes: ignore them. But since we are a very intelligent bunch, we know ignoring the problem is not a solution. And I’ve opened myself up to help you realize that life is all about learning, not shaming.

I have a lot of causes that I believe in. I won’t speak of them, because my personal views aren’t the point here. The point of this is to educate those who wish to learn and also those who wish to teach. First, we will start with the learners.

Going back to the start, there are a whole host of things in this world that we, as people, may want to know more about. First, let’s get something straight. No one, and I mean no one, knows everything. Meaning that every single person who knows anything at all, even how to hold a pencil, was taught to do so by someone, by watching, whatever it may have been. Point is, if you don’t currently know something and you want to be educated on it, don’t feel bad. You’ve taken the first step and that’s effort. Effort is appreciated by a lot of people, and best of all, you are doing something about your lack of knowledge on the subject! Of course, there will be times when you don’t know certain things about a belief system or a movement. No one should expect you to. If they do, well that’s actually for the “those who wish to teach” section. All in all, educating yourself on different things that you either weren’t exposed to, or things that you have grown into appreciating, is a great thing. Knowledge is power and if you “lesson” yourself on something specific to begin with through searching, asking or observing ,then you are putting yourself in a great position to not be overwhelmed by a never-ending flow of this and that.

Now for those that wish to teach. I don’t necessarily mean people wanting to teach in schools. I’m directing this towards the folks who want to educate another person on their beliefs, customs or causes. Here is, really, my only advice: DO NOT EVER BELITTLE SOMEONE FOR A) NOT KNOWING SOMETHING ABOUT THE THINGS YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT, B) ASKING A QUESTION YOU CLASSIFY AS DUMB, C) NOT HAVING A THOUSAND DIFFERENT CAUSES THAT THEY BACK. Let me detail a bit of each of these sub points.

For A, it may seem obvious why you shouldn’t do this but I’ll say it anyway. Like I told the learners, there is no way to know everything about everything and if they’re learning about said thing then how could they possibly know everything you’re speaking of?

On to B. Yes, some questions can be very, very dumb. But if someone is being genuine and seriously does not know the answer to the question they’re asking then you, as someone who is wishing to educate and spread the word, have no right to make them feel incompetent. That is what leads people to dislike learning. Rudeness does not equal a successful education process. People will not retain the information if they’re too busy punching you in the head.

And finally to C. A lot of people, on Tumblr especially, believe that everybody everywhere should agree with every single cause. I would just like to say that a whole lot of times people don’t know about the cause. Educate them. Some people have heard about it but never really had the motivation to research it. Educate them. Some people just don’t believe in it. You could educate them on your side of things in a kind-hearted debate. But, and there always is a but, if they have never heard of it and don’t ever want to, then respect that. If they have heard of it but don’t care to know more, respect that. If they disagree with you and don’t want to hear why you believe what you believe, respect that. That’s one of the most important lessons in “lessoning.” Sometimes you have to allow people to exist the way they are. It can be frustrating, but it is part of the human condition.

What people fight for, what people die for, what people discuss and debate—that is all open and out there waiting to be consumed. For the learners, you do not have to get caught up in thinking that you have to have an opinion on everything nor do you need to know everything about everything. The Internet opens us to a lot but it doesn’t have to swallow us whole. For my teachers, you have the information within you. Share it wisely and with kindness. No one likes being made to feel useless or foolish for not knowing something and if a person comes to you for help, then realize that they’re now in a vulnerable spot. Do not abuse that.

I think this lesson is one to always hold close. I know I’ve found myself in situations where I just want to yell and scream because of a person who’s debating with me about what I believe in. Instead, I take a breath and “lesson” them on why I believe in what I do. After that, it’s out of my hands. When a friend wants to know more details about something I believe in—I always, with great care, give them  my own, personal, emotions behind it, and then the facts.

I suppose the overarching lesson behind my lesson of lessons is this: kindness really is the way to share, spread and learn ideas.

Hate falls flat every time, but kindness can transcend just about anything.

-Lesson by Hayley Verdeyen-
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