A Balsa Wood Balcony

We all like to claim ignorance.  We all like to deny culpability.  We all enjoy the self-imposed blinders that we have installed in our minds, as we travel through this thing called life.  Ignorance is bliss, after all.



The saying “Ignorance is bliss” originated in Thomas Gray’s poem “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eaton College” (1742).  The quote goes: “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”  Yet, this natural human sentiment can be found way before Gray’s poem.  Publilius Syrus, was a Syrian from Antioch, who lived from 85 to 43 BC.  He was a Roman slave who was brought from Syria to Italy.  He wrote, “In knowing nothing, life is most delightful”.  



We all understand this truth.  When it comes to climate change, gun violence, corruption, sin, business dealings and even relationships, ignorance is bliss.  For if you don’t know, whatever it is that you don’t know, doesn’t exist.  And if it doesn’t exist, it isn’t real.  And if it isn’t real, it isn’t a part of your reality.  


If something isn’t real, if it isn’t a part of my reality, I don’t have to actually deal with it.  And the desire to not deal with something is the root of your affection for ignorance that is bliss.  For dealing with something requires you to take responsibility for something.  It requires you to put in time and effort.  Dealing with something means that you will have to actually take some responsibility for something.  And who wants more responsibility?


Bliss is defined as “supreme happiness; utter joy and contentment”.  Which, by all definitions, is wonderful.  Who, if given the choice, would not want to experience supreme happiness, utter joy and contentment?  Yet, if you are experiencing supreme happiness, utter joy and contentment that isn’t based on reality, you are simply standing on a balsa wood balcony.  Sooner or later it’s going to come crashing down.  You will then be forced to deal with the consequences of the bliss that you have enjoyed, because of your ignorance.            


Are you afraid?  Are you worried that you can’t do anything about anything?  Thus, why bother even knowing in the first place?  Or are you simply comfortable living in your blissful ignorance?  Maybe you like the world, the reality, that you have created through the lenses of your ignorance?  Maybe you have grown fond of your blissfully ignorant reality?  After all, it’s served you well, up to this point.    


I invite you to think about something today.  No shoulding on you, simply an invitation to think about something.  As opposed to living in false bliss, because of ignorance, doesn’t it make more sense to acknowledge all that is right out in front of you?  To get real and be real?  To seek to understand that which you have previously considered a mystery?  A mystery of convenience?  Even if all of this effort and realness means that you have to acknowledge things that, prior to now, you have simply ignored, in the pursuit of blissful ignorance? 


Let me give you an example.  Answer this question: What does God require of you?  Don’t just continue to read.  Actually, stop for a moment and answer the question.


The ignorance is bliss answer goes like this: If I don’t know what God requires of me, I can’t be held accountable for not doing it?  Do you get the whole ignorance is bliss thinking?  If you make the choice to never discover what God requires of you, then letting God down isn’t a part of your reality.  No harm, no foul.  For you don’t know any better.  You have to admit, ignorance is bliss is a masterful way of thinking.  Yet, it isn’t a masterful way of living. 


The problem with ignorance is bliss thinking is that none of us live in a vacuum.  Every decision you make, every step you take, every cake you bake impacts the world around you.  Impacts everyone in the world around you.  And even impacts people in the world who are nowhere near you.  For your blissful decision of ignorance has a ripple effect.


Let’s go back to our question for today: What does God require of you?  Your ignorance of this answer doesn’t mean as much to you as it does to those around you.  For what God requires of you is this: (1) Do what is fair and just to your neighbor.  (2) Be compassionate and loyal in your love.  And (3) Don’t take yourself too seriously, take God seriously.  (Micah 6:8) 


Claiming ignorance in this situation will do nothing but cause those around you to suffer.  For you won’t do what is fair and just to your neighbor.  You will simply do whatever you want.  You won’t show compassion and you won’t be loyal in your love.  That is unless you want to.  And you will take yourself very seriously.  For blissful ignorance is nothing more than simply putting yourself, your wants, your desires and your blissfulness before anyone else or anything else. 



The sad thing is this: The ignorance that is causing you bliss is simultaneously preventing you from experiencing true peace and happiness.  Your ignorance is bliss mentality is good.  But this good is preventing you from experiencing the great that God desires for your life.  Oh, and it’s also preventing someone in your life from experiencing the great that God desires for them.