COMMENTARY: Informed and miserable, or ignorant and happy

Is it better to be knowledgeable but miserable or happy but ignorant?

Special to the VOICE

In today’s culture of mass shootings, government hidden agendas, blatant dishonesty, social movements vs social movements, human rights violations and left vs right mentality, it becomes hard to want to know the truth. The truth about the world around us and the people inhabiting it.

In a world filled with disaster fatigue some people believe and employ the philosophy that if we only focus on the good, if we ignore at least 50% of the world around us, then we can be happy. They aren’t necessarily wrong in that.

If you do ignore all the bad you will see only the good, but is that a way to live life? Is that fair and just to those who aren’t as fortunate as we are? To the ones who don’t wake up in a cozy warm bed every morning, but on the ground outside. To the little children who don’t go to school, but walk for 12 hours a day to get a pail of water for their families, just to wake up and do the same thing the next day. To the families who don’t get to live together in a free nation who are torn apart by war and things that are completely out of their control.

Is it fair to them to just be ignorant? To unconsciously have the idea that because it isn’t us, it doesn’t matter? Or at least not enough to think about in depth, because if you did think about it in depth, it’s miserable.


Coming to McMaster University, a school with a student population of 30,117, I was exposed to things very differently compared to where I grew up, in Fonthill, which has a total population of 17,110. Not to mention that Hamilton, the city where I now live, has a total population of 551,751.

I’ve never been exposed to as many cultures, ethnicities, sexualities, religions, stories and experiences in my entire life. In my first week here it astounded me how in every lecture hall there were hundreds of different faces, and behind all those faces is almost two decades’ experience and knowledge.

Everybody, including me, had their own story. Each filled with good and bad, gains and losses.

While I had never seen so much joy and happiness in one place, I’d also never seen so much sadness and unfairness. People that I would soon consider my friends, told me stories of where they came from, and it opened my eyes to the world outside of Canada and the US.

Their stories made me want to learn more, and the more I learned the more disappointed I got. Disappointed that somehow in 2018 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to eat and live a healthy active life, that nearly 3 billion people, almost half of the world’s population, live on less than $2.50 a day, that somehow preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of upwards 2 million children a year who can’t afford treatment.

How is it that in a world where we have such creativity, beauty and fortune, we can also have all this chaos and despair satisfactorily sitting right along side it.

So that drudges up the question, what now? What do we do? What is the “right” answer?

Well, to quote one of my favourite TV personalities, Dr. Phil McGraw, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.”

I don’t know if human suffering will ever end in my lifetime, or even many lifetimes after mine, I just know we need to start somewhere.

I don’t believe we can live in a world where we don’t look for the answers, even if they are miserable. I guess it’s important to remember that our answers are somebody else’s reality, and that in itself is scary enough.

The world around us is not even close to the potential that it could be, and I don’t think we as humans can be satisfied with our creations until all of us get to share in the richness of freedom, peace, and happiness that we are already so fortunate to have where we live.

The only way to answer my original question is to change it. We must make being fully knowledgeable about the world and the people in it something to be happy about, something to be proud of. Then, and only then, can we be satisfied.

How about you? Is ignorance bliss? Would you prefer to be informed and unhappy, or unaware and cheery?

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The Voice of Pelham
Pelham's independent news source from the heart of Niagara.