"Oh, he/she is so innocent"
Have you heard this statement quite often? At least I have. And "so" becomes "soooo" or "choo" depending on the gender of the statement maker. If you know me, you would have very rarely, if ever, heard me making such a statement. I have always had this confusion as to what innocence means. I seriously did not know the exact difference between innocence and ignorance. You always call a child as innocent, and not ignorant. If somebody has not committed a crime or has no knowledge of the crime, he is called innocent. But, if a person does not know about lets say anthropology, he is said to be ignorant about the subject. Definitely not innocent!
So, I started this little research on the word "innocence". People mostly use the word "innocence" to define people who are trustworthy, dependable, not cheating and a whole lot of "good" qualities (including, not being aware of bad qualities). Innocence means "Freedom from sin, moral wrong, or guilt through lack of knowledge of evil" (Reference: answers.com). So, if lack of knowledge of evil is what constitutes innocence, is it right to glorify that quality as something great? I seriously dont think that innocence is a good quality. And as I saw that definition from answers.com, I realized why I dont often make such a statement.
If you call a child as innocent, there is no guarantee that the child will not grow to be evil. It is the lack of knowledge of evil, at that point of time, that is making him innocent. So, the good quality is not because of awareness or conscious choice, but because of ignorance towards evil. Now, you cannot expect a child to be "aware", so its okay for a child to be innocent. But, why give a compliment to a grown up as "innocent"? Assume that there is a villager, who has stayed all his life in his village, where all the people are very honest. So, this villager "is" very honest. Now, if he moves out of his village to some other city, where he witnesses that there is something called as dishonesty, he might become a dishonest person. So, the honesty he had till now was not because of a conscious decision, but because of lack of choices! But, if another person lives in an environment where he knows what dishonesty is, but still has taken a conscious decision to remain honest, he is to me, a really honest person. Going by the same logic, can you really judge a person who never had any temptation, the same way as someone who never yielded to a temptation? If you can judge both the same way, I would call Glen Mcgrath a great batsman, because he was dismissed only 30 times in his entire ODI career!
Am I making sense? Do you still feel you are giving a compliment when you call someone as "innocent"? Or is awareness a better option than innocence?