We often hear the phrase that ignorance is bliss. On the face of it, lack of knowledge means we can go about our daily business without any worry about what is happening in the world around us. It means that we don’t have to take any responsibility for what is happening around us because if we don’t know then how can we be expected to do anything about it. Furthermore, if we stay in our place of ignorance for long enough, others will make all our decisions for us. We can remain dependant on others to resolve our problems and we can hide behind our prejudices. It is, quite simply, a get out clause. But is ignorance really bliss?
Because it does not stop people making judgements about things of which they have little or no personal knowledge or experience, it reinforces irrational prejudices. These prejudices stem from ignorance and a lack of knowledge and understanding. But because they are speaking from a position of ignorance they are often unable to hear anything except the fear that stems from their lack of understanding. As we have seen time and again throughout history, fear leads to various types of discrimination including scapegoating of minorities and inevitably this leads to hatred. Invariably this is all due to ignorance.
So ignorance, in a physical sense, is not really bliss. It is actually quite harmful because it not only leads to misunderstandings, persecution and wars, but also to us missing out on experiences and opportunities that could be beneficial.
But it is also damaging to our spiritual selves. With spiritual awareness comes an understanding that we are responsible for our lives and the choices that we make. We can no longer blame God or fate or anyone else for that matter. The choices are ours, the responsibility ours. We have the ability to change our lives and the lives of those around us. But to do so means taking responsibility for our thoughts, words and actions. If we close our minds to anything we do not understand we will remain ignorant. If we remain ignorant we will not be able to progress spiritually or physically, because our fear of the unknown, our fear of difference, our fear of things we do not always understand or are not able to control will always hold us back.
Ignorance, therefore, is a barrier to both our physical and spiritual progression. We not only have a spiritual duty to continually learn and to educate ourselves, but we also have a physical duty because if we allow our brains and minds to stagnate we will create a world that is ignorant, bigoted and prejudiced. Is that really the kind of world we would choose to leave to our children? On a more selfish note, is that the kind of world we would like to come back to?
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