IGNORANCE IS BLISS
Some people may mistake ‘innocence’ for ‘ignorance’. ‘Innocence’ may mean almost the same as ‘ignorance’; nevertheless, there is apparently much difference between these two words. ‘Innocence’ is a person’s lack of knowledge of the unpleasant and evil things in life, such as not knowing how to cheat others or not committing any crime; it is mostly a matter of quality of a person’s nature. ‘Ignorance’, however, is the person’s lack of knowledge of day-to-day affairs around them, mostly perhaps, due to lack of exposure.
To begin with, let’s consider the very important point – health. Man had lived quite happily for thousands of years ignorant of tobacco and the inevitable cigarette. It is believed that tobacco began growing about 6, 000 B.C. in Americas and the Native Indians of the Americas began using tobacco for different purposes in the first century B.C. Then it was brought to Europe in the fifteenth century A.D by the sailors of Christopher Columbus. The “knowledge” of tobacco was, until most recently, considered a sign of dignity and status symbol, (Ladies and gentlemen made it a habit of smoking cigars, pipes and cigarettes as fashion.) but ultimately has become synonymous with death in the form of cancer and other respiratory ailments. Those people with the abundant “ignorance” of tobacco have been safe from this evil.
The advancement of technology has bestowed upon us the computer besides several other means of entertainment, and with its advent, many people have felt relieved of boredom, now that they can be knowledgeable as well as entertained. However, the recent statistics show that most parents of school-going children feel that it has become a menace, for they find it extremely difficult to literally pull their children away from computer screens. In more recent years it has been felt that the programmes and games that are available on the Net are very undesirable for young children – so undesirable that some conscientious parents have decided not to have computers and the Net connection at all! And it is not uncommon for us to find in the newspapers an article or two about how a particular adolescent happened to commit a crime after having watched the details of a crime in one of his favourite Youtube videos or in the video games. The children as well as the adults ignorant of this “Pandora’s Box” are definitely free from not only the health hazards incurred by using it but also the demoralising effects of it.
It is appalling to know, when it comes to considering the knowledge in firearms, that the weapons of mass destruction can wipe out hundreds of innocent souls and property worth millions, at a press of a couple of buttons on a sleek-looking hand-held device which in turn activates the dreaded missiles which carry ‘nuclear war-heads’ and automatically reach their target thousands of miles away!” This accursed technology was not known to the ignorant human race that thrived quite peacefully until some decades ago.
Of course, there is no denying that wars – fightings and killings – were prevalent even before World War I, and thousands were killed in wars. However, the point here is not the wars themselves but the destruction they brought about before and after the inventions of modern weapons. Is it not a fact that every knowledgeable person, at one time or the other, wished that there had not been a thing called ‘Atom Bomb’, the immediate threat to the entire human race, which is the ultimate responsibility of gaining knowledge in science? Will we – the knowledgeable and the ignorant alike – not be better off without words such as ‘nuclear bomb’, ‘chemical weapons’, ‘biological warfare’ and so on in our dictionaries?
What about the terrifying phrases of the present day: the ‘green house effect’, ‘global warming’ and ‘ozone layer’? Why, even the harmless-looking ‘plastic carry bags’ have become a major threat to the lives of millions all over the word, and there is no way out in sight with which we can get rid of them.
On the contrary, there are people ignorant of science that do survive to this day, and do that more happily and healthily, without ever grumbling about environmental pollution and ecological imbalance. There are tribes, for instance, the Eskimos of North America, the Bushmen of Australia, the Pygmies of Africa and the wandering tribal communities such as the Bedouin of the deserts of Asia, to name a few, who live in remote places and lead their lives happily with little or no knowledge of the so called ‘science’, in other words, with the blissful ignorance of science.
Finally, after summing up all these points, it is to be borne in mind that we are not to jump to the conclusion that all the knowledge in science and technology is against human race or that one should adopt an antagonistic approach towards knowledge per se. Knowledge, undoubtedly, makes a person more powerful, secure and comfortable.
However, one must learn to appreciate the good old proverb: “Prevention is better than cure!” It is just that we all should know how far we can strain the delicate balance between useful and harmful effects of anything. It is far safer to enjoy the blessings of ignorance of certain things in full than to become slaves of the privileges the knowledge gives us only to be burdened by its wrath later!!