Thursday, 10 August 2017

Article: Our Culture Of Ignorance

By Livy-Elcon Emereonye

 “Where ignorance is bliss, /'Tis folly to be wise.'” - Thomas Gray

Ignorance blindfolds. Like stupidity, it is life denying and dangerous. Ignorance can lead to the way of perdition and destruction through "unwise" acts.

A cultural production of ignorance with resultant timidity allows people to suffer and smile while the criminality and inhumanity against them go unchecked and unchallenged. The perpetrators of such evil cash in on this ignorance and cowardice to inflict endless pains on the victims who may even pay for more pains.

To be ignorant is to be in a state of little or no sensibility; to muddle, stupefy or act foolishly; benumb the faculties; being unaware or be put into a stupor. It describes individuals who deliberately ignore or disregard important information or facts. To the ignorant, not knowing something is often more comfortable than knowing it thus ignorance is bliss.

But if ignorance is bliss, why aren’t there more happy people? No. Ignorance is not bliss; it is rather dangerous, promoting hubristic but shortsighted worldview with the denial of reality. Ignorance is a very dark force, and at the very least, it severely impacts one’s success and happiness. Yes, deadly ignorance has potentially catastrophic consequences. This can easily happen when and where many people could have so much access to so much knowledge but remain resistant to learning anything. Worse still, it can promote perpetual servitude and even lead to self condemnation.

“There are many causes of culturally induced ignorance. These include the influence of the media, either through neglect or as a result of deliberate misrepresentation and manipulation. Corporations and governmental agencies can contribute to agnotology through secrecy and suppression of information, document destruction, and myriad forms of inherent or avoidable culturopolitical selectivity, inattention, and forgetfulness.” (Wikipedia). But it seems political agnotology is the greatest undoing of our people that Londa Schiebinger argued, saying "Ignorance is often not merely the absence of knowledge but an outcome of cultural and political struggle." Little wonder  there is a cult of ignorance, and there has always been, making Isaac Asimov state, “The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

The production and maintenance of ignorance is the cause of retrogression and decay in our society – and some feed fat on this! Thus, the act of purposefully leaving some people in a state of ignorance with the goal of benefiting from it through “deceive and swindle,” “befuddle and confuse” or even “intimidate and victimize” is high and religious. Those who feed on other people’s ignorance can go to any length to maintain the status quo especially where and when the ignorant live with an unbridled slave mentality.

Some of the dangers of ignorance include the facts that it makes one not to be prepared, and without preparation, one can’t see what is coming and as such cannot act right and timely. Ignorance limits one’s choice and power that amplify the consequences of inactions and wrong actions, leading to more mistakes, greater costs and more pains.

But why should one be ignorant or choose to wallow in stupidity? Why does ignorance thrive in the society and the world today?

The accident of birth may be blamed to some extent but the indolent nature of the ignorant is mainly responsible! It is often difficult to change those whose minds are made up especially with arrogance and false sense of importance – and this is common with “flamboyant elites”.  However, nothing is impossible to the one that believes. Regardless of space and time, there is always room for improvement but to the earnest seeker with sublime mind and a teachable heart.

Those who blame others for their woes, hardly get out of pitiable conditions. Those who enjoy the state of ignorance and stagnancy often have stories, silly stories, of how others are responsible for their failures, blaming everyone except themselves – this is the worst form of slavery. So what should be done?

Recognizing ignorance might be the only path to reliable knowledge. There is an interesting paradox that knowledge and insight accumulate fastest in the minds of those who hold an ignorance-based worldview so ignorance can be dealt with ease where there is the will and readiness to learn even from the ones we teach.

Know yourself. Be true to yourself. Be real. Be honest. Seek knowledge and use every available opportunity for education and advancement. Empower yourself and explore life to the full. Knowledge and choice provide power and control. By instilling in your unconscious mind a desire for learning, and a passionate move away repulsion of ignorance and deception, you can make an incredible and life enhancing difference, being contented and live at peace with yourself and others.

To eradicate ignorance, there is the need for social changes, if for nothing, to break down old barriers of race, class, and sex between uneducated citizens and elite experts to enlighten more people and re-make the world through universal education for greater empowerment.

Therefore, through education, no matter how smart or accomplished we are, let’s endeavour to always learn more and put into practice the good and productive things we have learned. There is really no end to knowledge but the more we learn, the more we are enlightened for better.

“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.” – Thomas Jefferson.

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