Hey! I order a cheeseburger: combatting ignorance

By Molly (Amelia) Pope
Prince of Wales Collegiate
St. John's, Newfoundland

I'd like to start with something Mark Twain once said, "when I was 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have him around. When I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."

Ignorance is bliss. But knowledge is power. And so we are left with the decision; do we bother to control or are we happily controlled?

Check out video clip
of Molly Pope.

I recently had the privilege of hearing a speech on the pros and cons of optimism and pessimism. When asked what to title it I suggested "hey! I ordered a cheeseburger!" seems like an odd title? Not really. Gary Larson once portrayed the four types of people; the optimist who believes the glass is half full, the pessimist who believes the glass is half empty, the geek who can't get question straight, and the greasy fat guy who just wants his cheeseburger; blatantly ignoring the question. The age old battle of optimism and pessimism has been beaten but neither side has won, for the lazy slob has taken over.

Martin Luther King once said "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance
and conscientious stupidity." I'm certainly not accusing every single person in our world of being ignorant, our world wouldn't work without a few of us caring; but the problem is not enough of us care. We've grown accustomed to technology doing our work. If we can't find the time to smell the roses, we buy the sent in a package or better yet, pay someone else to smell them for us.

But what exactly is ignorance? It was once anonymously said that "minds are like parachutes, they must open to work". Ignorance is when we keep our minds closed, and yet we get mad if we hurt ourselves when we fall.

There are so many problems around our world that people are ignoring. Not caring has become a fashion statement. If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around, does it make a sound? The way we work now, we use the excuse that we weren't there, and that therefore we couldn't have heard it, and therefore it didn't really happen. We pretend not to know, or actually never find out, the repercussions, so to avoid blame. It's not that people go out and buy a big Mac just to help destroy our #1 supplier of oxygen, but that they don't have the time or energy to do anything about it. Since your not the guy holding the chainsaw, it's not really your fault.

I guess global issues like rain forest destruction are a little hard to grasp, but there are other problems where there are no excuses. Take pollution for example; many of us shamefully throw our garbage on the ground. Thankfully, many of us don't; if walking down the street they pass a garbage can, why not put that wrapper in there! Then you can say you've done your part. Well that's fine and dandy, and thank-you. But if everybody from now on just "put their garbage in the proper disposals, when convenient", there would still be garbage on the ground. We have to become the ones who cross the road to get to the garbage can; and more so, the ones *gasp* bend down, pick up john doe's gum wrapper and put that in the garbage can too.

  Life is hectic, I know. But how many times have we heard crazy old grandpa ramble on with "why when I was your age, I had to trudge to school for 10 miles, with 100 lbs. on my back .... uphill." Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but true that cars and microwaves and computers and such have quickened our lives. With this time saved how can we complain that we can't spare those precious seconds to learn little more and actually start caring?

Just because you're not part of the problem, doesn't mean you're part of the solution. Although life is short, it's certainly long enough to do a couple of helpful things. Our excuses have become poor, just because you didn't know something was wrong doesn't make it right. Sure accidents happen, but how often can we say they weren't preventable?

Life is a journey. Some of us are leaders and some followers, and that's okay, you can go with the flow without being ignorant. The problem are the back seat drivers who sleep throughout the journey. Why bother getting out of the car, climbing the mountain, and seeing the view? Somebody may have littered on the trail, or somebody may have not cleared it off, why should you have to bother dealing with it?

Is ignorance is bliss? If bliss is laziness and not caring, then yes. But ignorance is not happiness, for happiness can not be knowing so little you don't have to care. Knowledge is power, but it is also satisfaction, the satisfaction of knowing what's right and having the power to act upon that. So next time you're walking past a rosebush, do you complain the roses have thorns, do you marvel that the thorns have roses or do you stop, smell the roses, and plant a few more?

This article originally appeared in English Expresso, an online student publication at
Prince of Wales Collegiate in St. John's, Newfoundland.