A Relative State of Ignorance

A friend texted me yesterday after reading my blog post. She seemed to take exception to my final sentence (Besides, nothing in this new world is more redundant than an old woman, no matter how perspicacious her thoughts might be) and sent me information about Maggie Kuhn, the woman who started the Gray Panthers, as an example of how important an old woman’s ideas can be.

My response? “And yet here we are, still redundant.”

I went on to say, “Actually, I should have qualified my half-facetious closing remark to refer to what’s going on today. In a war for the hearts and minds of the young, the old don’t matter. By the time their brave new world is operational, I’ll be dead.” Though, come to think of it, with the way things are changing so rapidly, I might still be alive enough to be affected by that world. Not a pleasant thought!

I also told my friend: “I have a hard time dealing with things today that I thought were taken care of in my youth, like civil rights, women’s rights, elder rights, environmental issues, and Russian conflicts. It was really a shock after living in the cocoon of Jeff’s illness and death and my grief to come out of it into a world that seems to have regressed tremendously. Russia an enemy? Really? What happened to Glasnost? And civil rights riots? Really? I thought that things had improved, but according to some sources, it’s even worse now than in our younger days.”

She responded: “I couldn’t agree more. The cultural information is not being passed down, I have felt for some time. And each newly read or watched program feels like another piece of who I thought we were as a country and any good memories I do have are taken away. So very hard to put it into words. And never have so many marched for so long in my memory and then I realize they can — because of the pandemic they are unemployed.”

My response: “Funny. I just came to that very same realization yesterday about protests and the pandemic. It’s hard for me to try to refrain from putting a conspiratorial slant on things.”

Her brilliant comment: “Isn’t it? The only thing that saves me is the thought that if we could work together to put on a worldwide pandemic successfully, SURELY we would have made a better world.”

Me again: “What worries me is that this is exactly the world we (they) want.”

The more I think about it, the more some sort of conspiracy seems to be a real possibility, and that the riots (oh, excuse me, the “mostly peaceful protests”) were spontaneously on purpose scheduled for this very time.

Beyond that, it’s not just about the information not being handed down or being unheeded. It’s not just that we thought things were progressing on all the various “rights” fronts and so we forgot about it.

There’s something more at work, and the only thing I can think of is that social progress was not just stalled but undone. Apparently, it’s hard to keep building a power base on the backs of the oppressed if the oppressed are no longer oppressed. So the plan seems to have been to re-oppress people so they can be re-unoppressed. Hence the déjà vu times we are living in. (Déjà vu to us older folks. Something brand new and radical to younger ones.)

Whether I’m right or way, way wrong, I’m beginning to see a bigger picture, big enough maybe, that I can stop thinking about all this, put it to rest in my mind, and go back to my relative state of ignorance, which isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Benjamin Hardy PhD believes that selective ignorance is a good thing. “It’s not the avoidance of learning. It’s also not the avoidance of getting feedback. It’s simply the intelligence of knowing that with certain things and people, the juice will never be worth the squeeze. It’s knowing what to avoid.”

And to me, a lot of what is going on the world today is best avoided even in my thoughts.

I just hope I can act on this resolve for ignorance!

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator