Is Ignorance Bliss?

I am dumbfounded by people who go through their lives completely and utterly oblivious. The fact that there are people who are able to choose a life of oblivion for themselves (and do it happily) is honestly astonishing. During our session on the world and our place in it, “Live Session #4: Dreaming Upside Down,” I began thinking a lot about the accountability that Americans should have for the earth (as we are among the top countries most detrimental to it); but that’s simply not the case.

It would be useless of me to sit here and tell you about how the American education system is completely incompetent at teaching today’s youth about global affairs because you already know that. We know that most fourth grade students can’t tell the difference between South America and Africa, and that history books share the perspective of slave-owners, while neglecting that racism did not end with the Emancipation Proclamation. As you get a little older you become a little more aware of what’s going on around you, but most of the time you only focus on what affects you personally. In this day and age, it is so easy to educate yourself. In fact, you are supposed to educate yourself.

I’m not saying that your calculus class is useless because you’re technically not “educating” yourself, I’m saying that being aware of the world around you (in more than just an academic sense) is our responsibility. Yes, we have come a long way in terms of automation and “personal freedoms,” but would our ancestors be proud? Our economy continues to favor the wealthy, the gender wage gap is still prevalent across all careers, and racism is more institutionalized than ever, simply disguised in hope that nobody will bring injustices to light.  

It’s our job as humans to mend the problems before us. Making the world a better place to be in, not only for ourselves, but also for generations to come is something we should all consider an immediate and individual responsibility.

Technology puts us at such an advantage when it comes to gaining information, so why not use it? We can learn about new bills that are on the verge of being passed with the click of a button, start a dialogue with a simple tweet, or read about the latest in political movements with just a quick swipe. We’re capable of seeing political protests, the effects of climate change, and the impacts of viral epidemics in places thousands of miles away. We can meet people across the world in a split second. Whereas our forefathers would have been unlikely to even cross each other’s path, we can immediately talk with them, learn from them, and work with them across borders, time zones, and continental divides.

By definition, being ‘ignorant’ is defined by lacking awareness or being uneducated, but choosing to be ignorant is defined by laziness or heedlessness. So, is ignorance truly bliss? If you consider bliss driving the world farther away from ideal, then I guess it is. We can no longer pretend that we don’t have opportunities and resources to make a positive impact.

You have the tools. I have the tools. It’s time we use them.

Kayley is a junior at Somerset Academy High School. She is passionate about human rights. More specifically, she is passionate about correcting the unfair treatment of people in general. Aside from that, she enjoys makeup, drawing, and loves dogs.