To know or not to know—that is the question. There’s still a lot going on in our country, and I waffle between wanting to stay informed and wanting to remain blind to it all. Truth be told, I am a knowledge-is-power, the-truth-will-set-you-free kind of girl. But is ignorance really bliss? Or not? Never? Or sometimes?
I’ve read plenty of poems that reminisce about the bliss of childhood with its happy-go-lucky days unmarred by the sad truths of adult life. Poems that reveal a twofold perspective that not only is ignorance bliss, but knowledge is misery.
But is childhood really all that blissful? Mine wasn’t. Mine was messy.
Is adulthood really all that miserable? Mine isn’t. Plus, when you’re an adult in today’s world, ignorance-is-bliss means you have an STD tomorrow.
So what’s my answer? While, yes, this grown-up knowledge brings misery, and with it, whatever idealizations I had about the world are sullied. And yes, this is a necessary part of growing up. But I also believe it does not necessarily need to lead to misery.
I listened the other day while a friend described how disappointed he is in the country and that he’d no longer fly his American flag. January 20th tarnished his views on the people – citizens and leaders. He’s decided everyone is corrupt and disgusting. With that, he said he’s checking out… he’s “leaving the room.” In my opinion, he made this decision out of anger and outrage, and what’s blissful about that?
Seventy-four million people – probably more – aren’t walking out of the room with their hands up and heads down. They understand the stakes are high and that there’s still work to be done.
I’m choosing to stay informed. I’m deciding to get involved.
Where do I start? What do I do? And how do I keep from going mad? I’ve never been involved in politics. I’m barely an observer but with a hot opinion on things versus an involved citizen well informed on everything from campaigns to capitols.
For starters, I’m reading.
I’m reading everything, starting with Newton’s third law of motion: There is an equal and opposite reaction for every action. It’s fantastic how this theorem illustrates human thinking in general. Perfect example: first, we elected Barack Obama, then we elected Donald Trump.
I’m also reading this, Plato’s description of democracy. And this, the trial and death of Socrates. There is a bona fide relationship between political science and philosophy. Political science asks questions like: What should the State do and what should it not do? Which are the best laws and policies? What social and political reforms should be introduced by the State? Which is the best form of government? What are the right and ideal political conduct? And to answer these questions, Political Science enters the realm of Philosophy. (If only I paid attention in school, I’d have already known this.)
Staying-in-the-know has also informed me on something else of great importance.
Arizona Republicans have lost three Senate races in a row. (I live in Arizona.)
In case you’re unfamiliar, Arizona is home to what is essentially America’s biggest suburb in Maricopa County. This area is vaster than four states and way too dense. Maricopa County is where political strategists look for that focus group on steroids. Joe Biden’s narrow win in Maricopa County by 0.3 percentage points is what put him over the top. Our current Governor Doug Ducey is in his second term and cannot run for a third. He was a solid contender to run for the U.S. Senate in 2022, but his sins against Trump caused him to fall out of favor with his Republican party. Crossing Trump. Yeah, there had to be a price.
Now that I know this, I plan on volunteering with the Republican Party of Arizona. Whether I’m stapling papers and stuffing envelopes at the headquarters or helping in another role, I’ll donate my time to connect to my community in hopes of making it a better place.
This is good and well. I’m more informed and I’m working to make a difference, but how do I keep from going mad.
Social media. The only platform I’m on is Instagram. I’m still trying to figure out how to stay out of the algorithm kill zone. But until then, I am purging my follow list. To date, I have unfollowed about a hundred accounts. I’m also scrolling past the meme’s – they’re nothing more than venom and vitriol, regardless of who they’re poking fun at.
The social media algorithm is a true-blue hot button topic for me. And because I’m keeping informed instead of shutting it all out, I’ve come to realize that other people are just as concerned. I’ve discovered Prince Harry has a lot to say about social media and its role in creating conspiracy theories and disconnecting users from reality. He hasn’t been someone I’ve had much interest in. Still, I came across an essay he wrote where he called on business leaders to rethink how they fund the advertising systems that spread false information on social media. In his words, “…we are losing loved ones to conspiracy theories, losing a sense of self because of the barrage of mistruths, and at the largest scale, losing our democracies.” He added, “We are all vulnerable to it, which is why I don’t see it as a tech issue, or a political issue—it’s a humanitarian issue.” I certainly can get behind this!
I’m not sure how to attack this crisis – and yes, it’s a crisis. But I know that there are people who care, people who still believe in the best of humanity. And for as long as they remain out there, vocal and working to create change, I’ll continue educating myself so that I, too, can do the right thing.
Are you convinced yet that knowing is better and that it doesn’t have to be maddening?
No? OK, let’s talk COVID.
The recent pandemic has caused many of us to look at our health in new ways. In addition to practicing good hygiene and recommended social distancing methods, staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight plays a role in the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and recovery outcomes. There’s been a lot of information coming out about pre-existing conditions, co-morbidities and age, but what do you know about weight? Body mass index (BMI) compares weight to height and is a common means to measure body fat. Calculating a person’s BMI is also used as a screening tool for obesity. To calculate your BMI, use this calculator.
Now, what does your BMI say about you? According to the CDC, if your BMI is 30 or higher, it falls within the obese range. If your BMI is 40 or higher, it falls within the obese range and is also sometimes categorized as “extreme” or “severe” obesity.
Why is this important to know? The CDC states that obesity worsens outcomes from COVID-19 due to an impaired immune function. Want to know what else? While studies are still underway regarding the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine and obesity, it has been proven that common flu vaccines do not work as adequately in people with obesity. Yes, per the CDC, studies indicate obesity may be linked to lower vaccine responses for numerous diseases. COVID-19 has created the perfect storm for people who struggle with weight.
So tell me, was it better not knowing this information?
I say ignorance is not bliss if it comes with throwing in the towel. Find something that matters and pursue what is right and worthwhile. Take that journey.
Knowledge is power, and it’s necessary to build a better world.