anxiety, mental health, opinion

“Ignorance is Bliss” meet the Serenity Prayer

Ignorance is Bliss is a proverb that is defined as “If one is unaware of an unpleasant fact or situation, one cannot be troubled by it”. The idea of ignorance being bliss is not a new one, but it is one that I think is very prevalent today. With the world being as turbulent as it is and has been for so long, it is very inviting to want to switch off the news or simply not talk about it.

Although the news of Covid, economic impacts, global strains etc. can be too much to handle at times, it is in my opinion that one cannot remain ignorant to what is happening, simply because it encroaches our everyday. From the mask that we wear in the grocery store, to workplace changes, even the fact that you can’t just grab a coffee with a friend are all reminders of what is happening. We, due to the visual and life-altering cues of Covid, are unable to hide from it as it engulfs us.

This then brings to question how much education is too much for some and how much education is too little en masse. Finding the balance between what an individual can (sometimes literally) stomach with what they need to know for the responsibility of being part of a larger community is hard. I think that line shifts for many day-to-day, from turning off the news that day to ignoring the problem completely and ignoring the rules and regulations set out by local authority to help themselves feel better. The latter is an example where ignorance can be dangerous, although that line is far closer to us than we realize in a global pandemic.

It has also been said that knowledge is power, that is my firm belief. I do, however need to understand and accept that others can’t and won’t abide by that for their own comfort and mental health need. This is when I turn those who would rather shield from the truth to the serenity prayer.

I am not religious, but I think we have all heard an excerpt of the larger prayer:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. “

I think the idea of blissful ignorance can be ultimately defeated by the mentality of the serenity prayer. One can educate themselves and accept that they cannot change something. Maybe when you hear or read something you will find the courage to change it. Being wise in this case would not only be knowing the difference, but daring to know the truth.
Now this is clearly easier said than done. But it goes to show that even in biblical times this has been an issue for people.

I have a tattoo behind my ear “Sapere Aude” which means Dare to Know in Latin. It was used during the enlightenment by Immanuel Kant. I have always sought knowledge and as I’ve grown affirmed my ability to make my own judgement and knowledgeable opinions based on truth and facts. I think this also comes down to how I was raised. “Don’t ask a question if you don’t want the answer” was a lesson from an early age. If you asked a question, you would get the answer even if it wasn’t what you wanted to hear. The same would be if someone asked a question of you. You would answer honestly without reprimand, because they asked the question. They sought the truth, it is your responsibility to give it to them and it is their responsibility to take the information.

 Sometimes we don’t want to know the answer, but it takes courage to seek it. What you do with that information is ultimately up to you. Acceptance. Change. I can feel whatever I want to feel about a subject but without educating myself on it, I can’t fully accept or change it.  

The truth is the truth. Facts are facts, whether you know them or not. Hiding under a bed doesn’t stop the house from being on fire nor does it keep you safe from the flames. However, knowing there is a fire, what caused it, where it is etc. could keep you alive as you know how to properly handle the situation.

This mentality can go with anything. Covid-19, politics, BLM, personal health issues, the list goes on.
We need to balance how we take care of ourselves by omitting knowledge, and knowing what is necessary for the good and betterment of ourselves and others.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

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