I Believe in Ignorance

May 26, 2017
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I believe in ignorance and the affect it has on our friends, family, and society as a whole. Ignorance covers a wide range of issues. I’ve written on this topic and noticed a steady change in my writing. I had started writing about ignorance as our thirst for knowledge. I had a lot to learn, but I was optimistic. But over time. I discovered an endless amount things that I would never know and realized a few life lessons along the way, some I’m still learning. I won’t know I’m good at something until I see someone better, why my brain can’t even understand itself even though that’s it’s job, and learned how my words affect others. There is so much we don’t know. The more I got knowledge of my ignorance the more anxious and depressed I seemed to be. In a way, ignorance is bliss. But it is a facade, covering up the problems that exist, not solving them.

What most recently amazed me was other people's ignorance. Like discovering half my country doesn’t care to vote, people that still think racism, sexism, or homophobia is okay, and people deny global warming and our rapidly dying earth. I was more perturbed by people's ignorance of each other in general. Like how playing on our phones affects our friends, the way our words affect others, and people that get mad at others on the road, in line, or in class for no really good reason.

I’ve realized just how closed off we are to one another. Someone could say something completely normal and it could deeply affect a friend. And sometimes it’s the little things, like when someone does something with you every single day and suddenly they stop and you’re left wondering “What did I do wrong?” You could open up to someone about something that has slowly been eating away at you and have them tell you “Could you just, like, pretend it’s not there?” and you’re like “What? The hell?” But even then, are you not also ignorant? You too may have said something hurtful to them. And maybe they tried to help you somehow but they didn’t do it right. There’s just so much that we don’t know, and although we can’t always know for sure no one ever seems to consider what’s going on in another person's life. And our ignorance of each other has led to some disastrous results. “Americans are lonelier than ever. Between 1985-2004, the number of people who said there was no one with whom they discussed important matters tripled” according to Duke University researchers.

What hit me where it hurts even harder than those things? Realizing how ignorant I was of myself. I have never dealt with my own feelings or problems until this year. I learned that I can’t see far away and to watch the things that I say. I learned about sonder, that is, the realization that everyone in this world has a story, a life, a goal. I learned about my feelings, and that I have them, because for so long I was ignorant to them that I thought maybe I didn’t have them at all. And then suddenly they hit like a freight train and everything I had been ignoring for the past seven years came flooding back and I was dealing with problems I didn’t even know I had. I didn’t notice the problems I had. I fell in love with someone for the first time, and they liked me back. We both made mistakes, some that took me a while to realize I had made. I’ll admit though, I’ve been secluded. Being homeschooled from 8th to 10th grade, I had a valuable time to learn about myself taken from me. And although I was fairly happy, I was kind of lonely. But at least I wasn’t worried about having bad eyesight or anxiety, right?
I believe I’m lonely. I believe we’re all lonely. Because in a vast world of internet and books and people and schools there is still so much that we don’t know. There is so much we don’t know about our solar systems, our planet, our country, our friends, our family, and most importantly, ourselves. Never have I had to look back on myself with such harsh eyes, with so much hatred and so much embarrassment. Never have I had to look at my friends and family with so much anxiety and jealousy. Never have I looked at my country and thought “oh my god we are terrible people.” But I’ve also never looked at space and appreciated it for what it was. I’ve never looked at my planet and found beauty in every object and person, the color of a flower, the perfect lighting, someone's haircut, or the color of their eyes. Never have I looked at my community and seen all the good we were doing. Never have I looked at my friends and tried to understand everything about them. Never have I reflected so deeply on my actions and my feelings to the point of no return, where I can look up from the bottomless pit of my thoughts and see just how much their really is and how far there still is to go. Never have I tried to change my life, to make my world better, my relationships better, and myself better than I could ever be.

To the people who told me Junior year would be the hardest, congrats, you were right. And to all the juniors standing here today, congrats, you made it. From reflecting on my own ignorance and the ignorance of people around me I’ve discovered some terrible and deeply disturbing things, but they are things we need to see. Lunatics have run our countries and disasters have struck our people and our planet is literally melting and our country is lonelier than it’s ever been...and for what? Our own convenience? Because you decided your vote didn’t count? Because you decided you didn’t need the lifeboats on the ship? Because you decided the amount of oil you used wasn’t affecting you personally? Because you decided that constantly texting someone when with another friend didn’t bother you and therefore didn’t bother them? Because you decided that ignoring a problem would make it go away? Ignorance is “bliss”, but only for the individual, and not for very long. If we as a society plan to live another hundred years we need to ditch the idea that our ignorance is bliss. It’s a short term answer to a long term problem.

The world is melting, people are starving, and suicide rates are through the damn roof. Some of you may be ignoring me as I speak. I believe in ignorance. I believe in the power it has, and that it is ruining lives because you didn’t try to notice anything. You didn’t notice how many cigarettes were on the side of the road when you walked home, you didn’t notice the homeless on the streets, you didn’t notice the way your friend kept rubbing their hands together and couldn’t make eye contact with anyone for the past few days. And if you did, what did you do about it? Ignore it? Pretend you didn’t see it?

I believe in ignorance. I believe that ignorance affects our friends, family, and society as a whole. But I also believe that it is the key to itself, that ignorance has the power to make us become better. I’ve tried to become better...have you?

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