“Ignorance is bliss.” It’s a phrase that has surrounded us since infancy. While we easily accept the meaning we often fail to recognize its significance in our society. This phrase has shaped the way mankind exists within the social stratosphere it has created. The truth is, the majority of our population remains naïve to some extremely important issues. But hey, it’s easier to be blissful than well-versed, right? I’ll admit, I’m guilty of this myself. I often avoid turning on the news as the majority of the time I come away from watching it extremely depressed and anxious about the state of affairs our world is in. Why waste time trying to stomach the news when I can just stream my favorite sitcom, right? Wrong.
This past week alone I found myself guilty of such ignorance. While talking with a family member about the upcoming election, a depressing topic in and of itself, Clinton’s involvement in Benghazi came into the conversation. We quickly realized neither of us really knew the story behind the event.
“You know, with things like that, it’s a lot easier just not to know. Ignorance is bliss after all.” I immediately, perhaps even subconsciously, nodded my head in agreement with the statement. After all, it really is easier not to know what happened, to not worry about it. However, within seconds of agreeing a deep guilt rooted inside my stomach. I simply couldn’t ignore the twinge of disgust wrapping itself around my conscience; it made me sick.
This is the issue: I am currently studying environmental sustainability studies, a subject I consider one of the most imminent and important of our generation. Whether it is in class or within the readings outside of class, ignorance is one of the main topics discussed in this field. Ignorance regarding the environmental impacts mankind’s actions have on this planet is one of the biggest hindrances against sustainability efforts and progress. The truth is climate change and its consequences are no easy pill to swallow. Most people spit it right back up. Which is exactly the problem.
Climate change isn’t a secret, most anyone can tell you what it is, but that doesn’t mean they can give you the facts. Most people don’t want to know the facts. They’re scary. I, perhaps more than anyone else, understand this. I study them every day and they still terrify me. But being scared is important. Fear is one of the most important emotions humans possess. When we’re scared of something big, such as climate change, it’s the first indicator that it’s probably really important. And it’s one we should be addressing, not ignoring, no matter how scary.
Some facts not as well-known: today we have the technology and knowledge to end our dependence on nonrenewable energy resources such as coal and fossil fuels. We’ve made remarkable and unprecedented progress with renewable energy resources such as solar and wind. I wish I could express to everyone how much optimism there is for our future, as this optimism is so often overshadowed by the horrors of the negative effects of climate change ever looming above. However, to understand the importance of investing in solutions such as these, we first need to understand the problem.
I fight so hard every day to stay knowledgeable and keep the people close to me informed about environmental issues because I care. I often find myself scolding those I’m close to if they’re not aware of climate change facts. My own hypocrisy was too much to stomach.
As soon as I was alone I researched Benghazi. I can tell you now that from September 11, 2012 through September 12, 2012 two government facilities belonging to the United States located in Benghazi, Libya were attacked by an Islamic militant group in response to the release of an anti-Muslim video. The attacks resulted in the deaths of Christopher Stevens, the US Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, US Foreign Service Information Management Officer, Tyrone Woods, CIA Contractor and Glen Doherty, also a CIA Contractor. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, ultimately took the blame for any and all security lapses that led to the success of the attack and the death of our US Citizens.
In a presidential election as imperative as the one taking place this November, being incredibly familiar with each candidates is an absolute necessity. There’s no excuse not to be, especially not because it’s quote on quote “easier.”
I can’t express how imperative I find it that we as a species remain educated on today’s current events and the problems plaguing our society. I’ll admit it: politics kind of disgust me. Even so, it’s no excuse. Politics have an extremely significant impact on sustainability policies and I know this.
What we often fail to recognize is how interconnected everything within our society is. Politics have a direct impact on climate change, international affairs have a direct impact on politics, and climate change has a direct impact on international affairs. As soon as we allow ourselves to remain ignorant about one topic, we enable a worldwide epidemic of ignorance.
There are a lot of scary things in this world, but no one every instigated positive change by remaining in the blissful state of ignorance. Our greatest contributions as a species on this planet have come from well-informed minds that made decisions based on knowledge.
It’s okay that we as humans don’t like being sad or scared. That’s natural. However, what we must remind ourselves; our society’s current state of affairs is a direct reflection of our choices and actions as a species. It’s our responsibility to keep up-to-date, our duty to this Earth, to our fellow humans to keep from falling into our safe place of “blissful” ignorance.
Whether it is climate change, politics, war, hunger, or international relations, if there’s an issue or topic that scares you, face that fear. I dare you. Do some research. Get scared. Get angry. Get inspired to initiate change. The greatest change can start with one person who cared enough to speak out or to try. It’s not easy, it’s often scary, but god knows it’s worth it.
Remember: Ignorance isn’t bliss. Ignorance is false security. Ignorance is unproductive comfort. Ignorance enables destruction. Ignorance reinforces a lazy society. But more than anything, ignorance isn’t bliss. It’s utter bulls**t.