Naïveté and all it's good for!
Naïveté is the word we give to ignorance.
When we hear something we used to think, but since then we have thought differently, we call it naïve. We say, ‘No, but you don’t understand the whole picture yet. I use to think that but then I grew up.’ Sometimes that’s true.
Sometimes we are naïve and young and don’t understand the intricacies of the problems we face. But that accusation is doing a lot of damage. Firstly it teaches children that we see them as a lesser or lower state. Secondly it means that we have no reverence for how clouded we can get as adults. And thirdly it is dismissive of the individual.
The first point, naïve is a word associated with youth. Not by definition but by society. It is the perfection of a backwards insult. We tell kids they’re naïve all the time. That they’re simple and imply that being complex is desirable in the way we use the term. This puts children in the position of assuming that growing up and becoming complex are synonymous. The happiness, faith and relaxed security of being simple is some how not as good as being confused and complicated. So as they move forward in adulthood they are programed to seek complications and make their life difficult. Which is not of service to them.
Secondly the common usage of naive as a term of dismissal means that we do not have an understanding of how we may have complicated issues that are not naturally so. Take environmentalism (one of my favorite topics); we claim that we can’t do more to switch to renewable energies because we might upset the economy. First of all, that is a fallacy as the economy is not a person and can’t get upset. A better way to say it is rich people who are invested in coal and oil might get upset.
But more importantly the issue is a lot simpler; renewable energies will provide for the economy the same as coal and oil, but won’t kill the planet. And we simply need the planet to have an economy. This is one of my favored topics because I find it so funny that we’ve complicated something simple. But it’s only one example of how as adults we make a mess of things by assuming they have to be hard.
If you love someone, you should tell them. Simple. But what if it’s too soon, what if they don’t say it back, my parents never told me they loved me, what if I don’t actually love them, what if it scares them off, what if they don’t want my love, what if I don’t love them forever, what if they hurt me, what if I hurt them… It’s exhausting just writing the complications we add on. When it’s so simple to start with. But when we were kids we were taught complications are a good thing. We seem to think that all of this, these thought processes that cause us pain and make everything harder are somehow the better state of being.
Thirdly is that the way we use the term naïve is dismissive of the individual. If some one shares their opinion and you say, 'no that’s naïve'. What you’re saying is that they are not as educated as you and you understand it better. In doing so it’s taken an opinion shared and made the individual feel bad. No one should ever be made to feel bad for sharing an opinion. If they are unwilling to be open to another point of view or unwilling to consider that it is just an opinion and not a fact. And that the opinion itself (while not wrong, as no opinion can be) might not good for the world, well that might be worse then just being a bit simple.
So next time someone says a simple opinion take a minute to consider that perhaps they are not being naïve but rather have the clarity of a simple view point that allows them to see the truth. And even if they are being naïve, nothing is gained by pointing that out. Just share your opinion kindly based on your views.
Quite clearly this is just my opinion. And one formed by my experience with the word. I get called naïve a lot. And while I now smile and go, 'yes I do like things simple'. It use to cause me stress. That is obviously in large part due to my programming around the word but alas that is how I felt. I have a very childish simple side to myself that I choose to embrace. I am naïve and that's okay!