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Ignorance is Bliss

by Judy Richardson | Published June 26, 2022

“Ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise. “Thomas Gray – Ode on a Distant Prospect at Eaton College.

Ignorance is bliss or what you don’t know can’t hurt you,

I once talked to a school guidance counselor who urged me to find my bliss. By bliss I am sure he meant to find what makes me happy. According to the dictionary, “bliss is a state of perfect happiness typically so as to be oblivious of everything else.” 

I can recall many blissful moments in my life, and I am grateful to have had them to remember. Lucky for me, my memory is so powerful I can be in that moment and feel that bliss again. I was curious one day to see where the term “ignorance is bliss” originated. I did read a lot of poetry in my undergraduate days but this one must have somehow slipped through the cracks. 

  Is it “folly to be wise?” Sometimes I am so pained by what is happening every day in a world of guns, hate, lies and lust for power in my own country and throughout the world, I have this overwhelming urge to just be ignorant.  I would be so much less painful and frightening not to know how innocent children are being slaughtered, and others driven from their homes by war. It is hard to stay positive if you watch the nightly news or read a news feed from the Internet. I know there are those who choose not to know about the cruelties committed by humans on each other.

What also comes to mind is that old saying,” What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” And we all should have been able to figure that is the greatest ignorance of all. Polluted water, insecticides and herbicides, cancer causing additives in food all are something we need to be aware of. Smoking, lung cancer, obesity and alcoholism, drug addiction are afflictions we bring upon ourselves in search of bliss.  So, finding your bliss in this toxic environment in which we live is no easy task. There is also plenty of evidence of hatred and intolerance that is the result of self-inflicted ignorance of ignoring the truth.

So how can we hope to find our bliss when bombarded by so much tragedy and seeming coming disasters? I struggle to find mine every day. It is there in the smile of a stranger, in the voice of a loved one on the phone, in the help from a good neighbor and yes, in the unconditional love of my dog.  So Lucy and I retreat to my recliner and share a blissful moment as she settles with sigh on my lap. The world goes away for a while and in that happy moment we find our bliss.

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