SALT LAKE CITY — Is ignorance bliss or is knowledge power? That is the question that has been running through my head for several days now.
Like many of you, I scroll through my social media news feed or turn on the television and — even with the volume all the way down — everything is so loud. From disagreements over how social distancing and mask-wearing should be practiced during the COVID-19 pandemic to arguments over how to best bring attention to racial injustices, it seems the whole world is at odds.
I have friends who have compromised immune systems, who are begging people to wear masks and stay home. There are also friends of mine who are struggling due to the current economic hardships brought on by the pandemic, who are doing their best to adapt to rules all while pleading with people to partake of their goods and services so they can support their families.
I have Black friends from my childhood growing up in the outskirts of Denver, Colorado, who are hurt and afraid by long-standing racial injustices that I was pretty ignorant to. I only saw them as good, friendly kids who went to the same school I did; I didn't know that there was another side to being Black in America. I just didn't see it.
I spent the first four years of my marriage wearing the title of a police officer's wife. I will tell you that sending your husband off to work with a bulletproof vest on and guns holstered in his belt is not a comforting thing. Not knowing if the goodbye kiss would be our last, or if the next call he received during his lunch break would change our lives forever. Because split-second decisions under heat and pressure have to be made, and what if that decision is wrong?
With all the noise of the world being right at my fingertips, I find myself wanting to ignore it. I will often put my phone away in a back room for hours on end while I take my toddlers for a wagon walk or jump on our trampoline. I will immerse myself in mindless yard work or go for a long run both in an effort to ignore the news and enjoy the bliss that comes from planting a garden or gazing upon the Wasatch Mountain Range while standing near a river filled with melted snow.
Staying on your side (of the fence), whether it's a side filled with hurt and anger or one where only happiness exists, is ignoring that there is another side. The only way to come together is by taking down those fences or at least opening a gate.
But choosing to see only the good in the world is also choosing to be ignorant to the bad. Faith in humanity often ignores the fact that real and justified fears exist.
More often than not, I find myself sitting on a fence — which is really not all that comfortable of a place to be, whether riddled with barbed wire or the smooth surface of vinyl. Because fences were never meant to be sat on. In fact, they serve only as dividers and protectors from what's on the other side. Staying on your side, whether it's a side filled with hurt and anger or one where only happiness exists, is ignoring that there is another side. The only way to come together is by taking down those fences or at least opening a gate.
Because ignorance never was bliss and knowledge has always been powerful.
I will enjoy the comfort of my back yard with my family, and I will get to know and love my neighbor. I will put my phone down so I'm not bombarded with noise and I will make time to listen.
After all, it is through our stories and experiences that we share with each other, that we are brought together. It is through a deep desire to be aware of the world and the people in it that will allow us to weather the storm to a brighter day. This, I am certain of. And I will continue to look for moments to help me gain more understanding of the world around me.
What moments have helped bring down fences or open up gates of understanding for you? Let us know in the comments.