Ignorance, especially in an era of exponentially expanding information, is considered by teachers, parents and scholars alike as bordering on the criminal. I can appreciate that sentiment, for as an academic I have expressed it myself. However, I would now like to change my plea to not-guilty. I know such a flip-flop has an anti-intellectual ring to it, but hear me out.
I take as my central argument the pregnant words of Thomas Gray who wrote in 1742: “Tis folly to be wise when ignorance is bliss.” He was of course speaking of honest, innocent ignorance. To paraphrase: What you don’t know can’t hurt you. Take such cases as:
* Not knowing Dad was Santa
* Not knowing Uncle Willy was a drunkard
* Not knowing Mickey Mantle was a flawed father
* Not knowing Winston Churchill drank on the job every day
* Not knowing the specific reasons tonight’s rising moon will rise the way it does
I’d like to think you can accept my argument in the first four cases. There “ignorance” probably hurt no one, therefore permitting me to savor the “bliss” I carry with me about each. But that last one — about the rising moon — that calls for some evidence. Here it is.
I can report that I, and millions of other innocently uninformed moon gazers tonight, prefer that we NOT understand all the celestial and climatic factors that will be at work in the skies after dark. Why? Because that’s the kind of bliss-less information that may have its place in weather forecasting, rainfall indices, and assorted data about impending climate-change here in North America….
….however, ladies & gentlemen of the jury, I am most happy to say: “They have little place in this case, because moons are first and foremost for lovers. And on that blissful note, I rest my case…!”
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