Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.
Most unknowing men are ignorant by nature, not by choice. They are naturally unaware of their actions or words. They genuinely feel that they are doing or saying the right things, blissfully ignorant of their intellectual shortcomings. However, this is more down to their lack of knowledge than the reluctance to gain it. After all, ignorant men are mostly people who are unaware of the scarcity or hollowness of their understanding of things. By and large, they are open to broadening their horizons, even if it takes them slightly longer than, say, people who are better informed.
On the other hand, the disinclination to learn is far more dangerous. It is one thing to be unmindful of one’s lack of knowledge and quite another to be unwilling to acquire it in the first place. While both are undesirable traits, the former at least offers some hope, some scope for improvement. On the contrary, very little, if anything at all, can be expected from someone whose mind is hardwired not to grow. This reluctance to learn eventually becomes a major obstacle to one’s personality and character development. After all, a person who is unwilling to battle can hardly harbor any hope of victory or fame.
That is why it is important to be open to new ideas. This does not mean taking everything at its face value or having no opinions of your own. What this means instead is to be willing to know more about things – both our own views and the values opposed to those views. Reading is one good way to do this; being in the company of learned men is another. Otherwise, what bigger shame can there be than wasting away one’s life in the darkness of ignorance? Noted American politician, writer and philosopher, Benjamin Franklin, had once said, “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”