Sam Radford

August 30, 2023

Never challenge someone from a place of ignorance

Hello 👋

It’s been a while. I went on holiday at the end of July and ended taking an extended summer break from my blog. It’s good to be back!

How’s your summer been? (For those of you who are in parts of the world where it’s winter, feel free to share too!)

You may also notice I’m back posting from HEY World rather than Substack. I realised I prefer the simplicity here. I felt like I was being harangued into more and more promotion and marketing and, well, that’s just not me. 

So, for those of you who have stayed with me, thank you for your patience! 

And, without further ado, here’s a few thoughts I’ve been pondered this week. 

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I’m reading ‘A Very Modern Family’ by Carrie and David Grant currently. I heard them speak at Greenbelt festival over the August bank holiday weekend about the pressures they’ve faced with their parenting. They have four children, one of whom is adopted, and all have come with different challenges. These have included mental health struggles, autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, trans non-binary identities, various sexualities, and being a mixed-race family. Hearing them talk prompted me to buy their book. And that’s where the line that titles this post is from. 

Never challenge someone from a place of ignorance.

It was a line that instantly captured my attention. Not just from the perspective of parenting though. That wisdom is true for all of life. 

I can be bad at this! I hear something I don’t like, or instinctively don’t agree with, so I spew out my view. There’s nothing thoughtful to my response; I’m just reacting. It is little better than ignorant spouting!

I know I’m not alone in having this weakness. It’s a temptation we all face. The urge to chime in and express our views on subjects we know little to nothing about is all too easy. So we spit out that cutting one-liner, or fire off that snarky social media comment. But we’ve added nothing to the conversation while, quite possibly, damaging our relationship with the person or people we’re in dialogue with. 

Though my mind went to wider contexts than my parenting when I read the quote, it has had me reflecting on how I interact with my girls. I am much too quick to use my ‘authority’ as their father to get my way rather than truly listening and understanding their points of view. I know I need to improve here! 

There is no excuse for ignorance. And that’s something else I realised from hearing the Grant’s over the weekend. I have chosen to keep many aspects of the subjects of gender and sexuality at an arms distance, not taking nearly enough time to move from ignorance to understanding. That too I intend to change.

What about you? Are there areas where you’ve been boldly speaking on issues which you know little about? Perhaps you can join me on this quest to hold back unless I am speaking from a place of true knowledge, understanding, empathy, and compassion.

Thanks for reading,
–Sam

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About Sam Radford

Husband, father, lover of books, writer, tech geek, sports fan, and pragmatic idealist from Sheffield, England.