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Ignorance is not bliss! An Analysis
In the light of recent world wide events and the confusion arising therefrom, we have to look into the details of history and recent events that got us to modern world wide protest movement. Every last one of us is born ignorant. We have to learn everything from those we depend upon without exception. About the only thing we have a grasp of when born, is breath. We have to learn just about everything else. This ignorance is not only the problem of the individual, but also of the whole of society and across generations. Each successive wave of population has to be raised and trained by the one just before. This occurs in a combined and unequal fashion as no two people are the same, nor are two cultures the same. We are also disjointed in time. Everyone also goes through different experiences of learning and this guarantees that some will be aware of things that others are not within the same community and generation. Knowledge also changes through time, resulting in alienation between generations. The problem of ignorance is a big one with no easy solution. Indeed, when we learn to do something in one way, we often forget how we did the same task originally. This has been stated another way by saying when one veil lifts, another drops. Going forward often means that we cannot go back if the way forward fails.
Of the five conditions that hinder humanity, the yogi Pantanjali lists ignorance as being one of them. But in learning, we are not guaranteed liberty from ignorance as people can be taught anything as “truth” and much of what people learn is empty of anything substantial. A single object lesson of history demonstrates how much this is so. That lesson is the one of the destruction of a culture by stealing away the children and re-edcuating them. This was the fate of many First Nations who had their children taken away en-masse to be re-educated in residential schools while the adults were forced into reservations. The children who would have been taught by First Nations adults on the arts and skills of living off the land and the rudiments of agriculture are instead given a European education totally unrelated to the needs of a First Nations youth. The re-educated youth does not know the old ways and is as helpless as many European settler was when they first landed on the shores of the new found region of the First Nations. In that earlier instance, they received help from the First Nations. They could not have survived without them, especially in the winter months with inadequate shelter and food. Indeed, almost all of the earliest settlers died anyway. Some tried to lord it over their kind hosts and met with a cruel response.
In our current culture, most people lack essential skills for independent life, where there is no supermarket, no electricity, no transport beyond one's own legs, no modern conveniences or anything else we take for granted. There are only a few places where a person can receive such learning, but given the allure of making money, people turn their attention to that quest instead. Thus, though lettered in areas of economy and finance, they are stone ignorant in basic survival skills if that civilization should suddenly come to a halt for one reason or another.
Ignorance carries a hidden and high price that can be usually disadvantageous but in a few instance can actually prove to be an asset. We have already seen the disadvantages. We have been told that the failure to learn history dooms us to repeating history. History also has cycles and those who know can use this to their advantage. Those that do not know this, repeat the errors. Those who do know, manipulate the ignorant to repeat the cycles while they themselves advance. In addition, in the current economy, many cycles are in themselves manipulated. This is how a few people are able to profit from the ignorance that passes from generation to generation.
That which was common knowledge of the previous generation is virtually unknown by the latest generation due in large part of manipulating ignorance in centers of learning. The formula used for advancing in economics can also be used in other areas of life. In the area of politics the knowledge of older people is unknown by the younger generation due to dumbing down. The dumbing down has been general and what some people consider to be failures and huge problems, are unknown by the youth. General dumbing down has overlooked important lessons that can be learned from history by even the younger to the advantage of those who normally control this kind of thing. One of these lessons of history is the tragedy of Stalin in Russia. There are many young people who are not even aware of Stalin let alone what he did. What they do hear is that communism is an abomination and they except that carte blanche without question for the most part. This is usually due to the fact that questioning is discouraged over faith. Obedience to authority and memorizing is preferred over open questioning and seeking of the truth. The latter is often penalized.
Lacking the knowledge of this seminal event in the 20th century makes them a clean slate and willing to try things as if they are new. In the 21st century, a new movement is afoot in the world and that is what is referred to as the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and supporting movements. What they do know is that they do not like the way the world is going by way of collective austerity. Both movements can trace their beginnings in the political – economic developments over the last several years and to the trigger event in Tunisia where a poor person set himself on fire when the state refused to allow him to run a meagre street business in order to survive. From Tunisia, it spread to Egypt and then to other countries. The movement grew first in the Middle East and then to the Christian world. The way it has developed in its groping way has been toward a coordinated assembly of many people doing many integrated tasks such as providing food, clothes, dealing with the media, arranging speakers, dealing with infiltrators and above all doing everything possible to be peaceful. They seek justice, democracy and economic solutions. Perhaps there is some collective memory at work from the unconscious. Perhaps it is something else.
But there are those who do know of history and the great advances and tragedies that unfolded. They both attempt to steer the younger and more ignorant by telling them their sides of the history. Two version of history emerge and though there is truth in both, there is also a lot of untruth and this get embellished to the point of total confusion. Most people will not challenge what seemingly knowledgeable peers have to say. The critical minded will question and seek out references that will usually render an embellished argument into non effect. Truth has to be a rigorous business not tied to subjective rationalizations but to the objective evidence inasmuch as possible.
The youth for the most part respond to what they see as wrong and behave in an anarchistic fashion for the idea of total freedom, especially if they have experienced tyranny and bullying throughout their lives. In their groping way they will try one thing and another. There are those surrounding them that will attempt to steer this force to a certain direction one way or another. For the OWS movement, there are now a host of supporters and erstwhile leaders of virtually every conceivable stripe. What results is a bewildering array of points of view and considerations of history and possible directions to go in. Others read a threat into it seeing a malleable mass being shaped for sinister and conspiratorial ends. What we have is a labyrinth that will take an aware and knowledgeable genius to sort it out to a coherent picture. Getting the people in mass movement to follow is quite another trick and to their credit, the youth are not quick to jump on various bandwagons of opportunism. They are groping their largely ignorant way to an uncertain future as the rest of us do in our day to day lives. But contrary to what we are told where ignorance is bliss and what we don't know won't hurt us, ignorance can only be bliss to those who attempt to exploit that of others for personal gain and what we don't know can be definitely harmful to us. Ignorance is a mixed thing, a blessing for some and a curse for most.