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Ignorance Can Be Bliss



Have you ever visited a playground? Have you seen the faces of children encompassing the joyous life in their beautiful smiles and chuckle some laughs? Have you seen the utmost life and freedom sparkling in their eyes? How they just live in the moment playing and running around ignorant of the harsh realities of life. To them a fall or a scratch may seem like the end of the world but they also get a hug full of love from their parents, and do not forget the chocolate ice cream with extra chocolate chip toppings they get that cheers them up. Seeing the merriment of children on one hand and the harsh truth of life on the other hand, one must quote the famous saying “Ignorance is bliss”.

The above expression means that sometimes it is better for you to not know all the facts about a situation. Just like children playing in a playground, a person who does not know a problem does not worry about it. This famous quote comes from a 1742 Thomas Gray poem published in 1747 (“Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College”) “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise”. Thomas Gray in his poem revisits his carefree childhood years swimming in River Thames near Eton College, capturing linnets (finch family birds) and playing a game of ball. Meanwhile , around them ‘black misfortune’ of human fate waited for them to present itself once the free soul children grow into adults shackled to the chains of not only anger, fear and shame, but also "pining love", jealousy, envy, despair, and sorrow.

Look at the children how they just give their attention to the here and now, to the joy of the moment. In a world where sorrow never comes too late and happiness files too swiftly; let them remain oblivious of their coming trials. Let them enjoy every moment of their ignorant childhood. Let them soar high in the sky in the daylight of dreams until the dark night of cruel realty rises and they have to come down.

Bigger Picture

Looking on a broader prospect, here one may ask that how does this saying apply on everyday life of not only children but also adults? How can ignorance lead to bliss and knowledge to grief and despair? Does ignorance always leads to bliss or is it fatal sometimes to ignore the reality? Is there a deeper meaning to the quote mentioned above? Well, the answer is simple. There are always two sides of the coins and we have to consider both sides at the same time to draw a practical conclusion and finally understand the true meaning of the saying.

Today the entire world is connected by internet and every person can access information. There is too much information for our senses to process, retain and handle. According to, there are over 2 million news articles on the web published in a day of which only 3 or 4 articles may affect our immediate circle of life. It is not possible and healthy to try to keep track of every single news, article and event. About ninety percent of the news broadcasted on the television is depressing featuring not only terrorist attacks, bomb blasts and riots but also wars and natural disasters with blood and deaths. It seems like the whole world is collapsing around you and you may become sad or even depress for hours, days or even weeks. So being ignorant and tuning out sensory overload will definitely free your mind and bring you some peace and bliss.

Practical Examples

Ignorance is really bliss when knowing leads to greater trouble. Ignorance is bliss when knowledge leads to unnecessary worrying and stress.

Some doctors do not tell their patients all the facts because it impacts negatively on their mental health and further complicates recovery. Even if the diagnosis brings forward troublesome news, some doctors avoid directly bombarding the news on the patient and instead tell their parents or caretakers the truth. Doctors follow the ‘need to know basis’ rule for the patient and use positive language that resembles a morning sunshine that brings hope. Hence ignorance becomes bliss for the patient kept in dark.

Some actors and authors stay clear of the reviews of critics in the news and the internet and continue to work hard and progress with high spirits and motivation. They cannot risk reading a negative review jeopardising their hopes and dreams and extinguishing their spark and passion. They truly know and believe that ignorance is bliss.

Personal Opinion

When you were a kid, you must have read or heard the story, ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’. The tortoise being slow but steady won the race against the fast hare. Tell me, if tortoise knew his limitations and had the knowledge that he is a lot slower that a hare, would the tortoise still have competed and won the race? Absolutely no! He would not have even tried! So ignorance is bliss.

© 2020 Noor Ahmed

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