Ignorance is Bliss

The Matrix is the first DVD my family ever owned, and as a kid, we watched it countless times. I was too young to understand most of the plot, but I was drawn to the action scenes. One of my favorite lines came from a scene that I didn’t fully understand until I was older. “Ignorance is bliss.”

In the movie, the world as we recognize it is called The Matrix, but The Matrix is actually a computer simulation, and the real world is a dark dystopian world. The character who says that ignorance is bliss decides he wishes he never learned of the real world. While eating steak and sipping wine, he agrees to betray his friends in exchange for being reprogrammed to wake up in the Matrix as a rich man without any idea that the Matrix isn’t real. He decides he would rather live a lie and hide from the truth. “Ignorance is bliss”

Isn’t this us as Americans?

A month ago, I wrote about the disheartening collapse of Afghanistan to the Taliban. This collapse was major news because of America’s involvement not because of the human rights violations and atrocities. In July, the Biden administration released a report which called out ongoing atrocities occurring in 6 countries (Myanmar, China, Ethiopia, Iraq, Syria, and South Sudan). These atrocities aren’t major news. No one on my social media feeds is posting about them. Why is that?

The situation in Afghanistan sheds some light – solutions aren’t always clear, and we can waste lives and money trying to find them, and since we are so rich, we can say, “ignorance is bliss” and pretend like these atrocities aren’t happening.

I don’t even want to be critical of the idea, but rather just highlight that the world is dark, and it’s paralyzing to see the abundant pain and suffering.

But at the same time, there are incredibly beautiful things too. This weekend my family celebrated my Grandma’s 90th birthday. It was a celebration of life, and the weekend was full of joy and lots of little kids running around. I got to meet a beautiful niece and nephew, and the miracle of children still astonishes me.

How can this darkness and beauty coexist? I challenge you to wrestle with that question. Next week I’ll write about how I feel the Christian worldview answers this question best.

1 thought on “Ignorance is Bliss”

  1. Ignorance may be bliss, but partial information is pure hell. We have good reason to live in fear of online mobs who, because of some video clip taken out of context, perhaps of our worst moment, will find ourselves out of a job, without friends, and, if things keep going the way they are, unable even to have a bank account.

    Real situations are nuanced, complex, and take a long time to understand. This is why it is so difficult to reach half-way across the world and intervene in cultural atrocities. As you have previously written, there is always a cobra effect waiting to bite.

    A traitor who would rather live a lie (the character from the movie you referenced) is an easy, obvious villain. No one ought to want that kind of ignorance. But having just enough knowledge to self-righteously send ugly sentiments to a stranger based on a video seems even worse, and what’s more, it isn’t in a movie, but it seems to happen nearly every day. Maybe a little more ignorance would be better than that incomplete knowledge.

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