Ignorance Comes At A Price
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Ignorance Comes At A Price

What we (choose to) see.

Ignorance Comes At A Price

Ignorance is bliss.

I’ve heard that phrase for as long as I can remember, in various carefree instances, and it’s always held a somewhat nostalgic, pleasant connotation that makes me think of, you know, soft clouds and fields of flowers. Don’t ask me why.

Lately, though, the phrase has started to take a new form for me. I’ve started analyzing it and asking the question, “Is ignorance really bliss?”

Here’s what my answer used to be:


Over the last few years, though, the answer has expanded.

Yes, but… at what cost?

If we don’t know bad things are happening, it’s easy to live a life with our heads in the clouds seeing only those things that are bright and happy… but the fact still remains that even though we might be unaware of the bad things – they are still happening.

Every time the news is turned on (I never turn it on willingly. If I see the news on TV, it has been forced on me), or I go on the internet, or I scroll through Facebook, I’m assaulted with news and opinions relating to all the things people love to read about and discuss: politics, wars, guns, deaths, tragedies, hurt, pain, and occasionally – very occasionally, cats. Those things can’t be escaped. This is our world, the one we helped build, and let’s be honest: it’s falling apart. Bad things happen. Bliss is a seemingly foreign word. Who has time for bliss when there are protests to be had, wars to be fought, people to yell at – and pain. So. Much. Pain. I see it everywhere. My heart can’t help but break as I look around me, and I know I’m not alone.

With so many cracked and bleeding hearts, this idea of ignorance is looking more and more attractive. If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Sure, the bad things might still be happening, but if I don’t know about any of it, I’ll be happy, right? There might be a hurricane outside but if I’m in the basement with my earbuds in and can’t hear it, there must not be any damage being done, right?

I think we can all agree on an answer for that rhetorical question. But I had another thought too:

At what point does our awareness of bad things cease to benefit anyone and instead, send us into hopeless despair (…using dramatic terms)? There is a lot of fear right now. I’m afraid. It isn’t something I like to admit but I can pretty honestly say that I’m terrified at the direction my country – and the world for that matter – is going right now. I would take a guess I’m not alone there, either. Fear can cause people to do things they never thought possible, sometimes for better but more often for worse. If people were more ignorant of certain things, would they be more willing to coexist with each other in peace? So much terror is built on hearsay and supposed knowledge of who did what and so on and so forth. Of course there are a TON of loopholes in that theory and reasons it could be a horrible idea (people tend to get taken advantage of and walked on when they live with their heads in the clouds, for one thing,) but the point still remains: if people were a little less informed, they might be less afraid, they might be less jaded and they might just be happier.

So if too much knowledge can make us despairing and hopeless, and too little knowledge makes us naïve and foolish, where does that leave us? I’m honestly still asking that question myself. How do we balance the desire for knowledge and ignorance-induced bliss? At what point does our intimate knowledge of the darkness out there do more harm to us than good? Isn’t the point of knowing and understanding the bad things supposed to serve as motivation to change those things? Somehow we’ve been forced to observe and become intimately close with pain. We see, we understand, and it hurts.

But maybe that’s the point.

Yes, ignorance to the bad things might make someone happier. But if everyone chooses to ignore the bad, who remains to take a stand against it? The key, I believe, is perspective.

We must seek. Learn. Observe. Feel… and let it affect us. Let it motivate us to take a stand against it. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

But let me say this too: when we are worn out, despairing, and hopeless – sometimes we just need to turn off the TV. Exit out of Facebook. Look up stories of good still happening, watch some cat videos on YouTube and make a list of 10 things that make us happy. Then, focus on those things. We have to cling to the positives around us. We don’t have to know every detail or word said of the issues out there, we just have to understand how they affect us and what steps we need to take in their wake.

Seek knowledge and understand what is happening and why we have the role to change those things, but for the love of life, cling to the positives. Not ignorance, but hope. Hope that we actually have the power to do good and make changes. Hope that a better day is coming, free of fear, free of anger, free of pain. “If we keep hope alive, it will keep us alive.” (Cassandra Clare)

Ignorance is not bliss, but hope is.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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