Ignorance and Narrow-mindedness

As Lord Acton  noted: “There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities. They will not bear discussion”.

Having quoted that very  useful  piece of advice, it is also  useful  to  note that  ‘ignorance”  and ‘narrow-mindedness’  are comparative things.  We could also  quote that  epitome of evil  and narrowmindedness  Donald Rumsfield ,  ex-U.S.  Secretary of Defence: Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.[1].

What  we don’t know ,  we don’t know how to  find,  let alone know it when  we see it!. Our human  brains are re-wired from  birth to  only  see those things that  are acceptable and useful  at a given  moment in  time. Those things that  don’t fit our schema of the world   are ‘unsee-able” . Combine that  with homo sapiens’ endless proclivity for self-delusion, and we have  billions of animals wandering this planet in  a complex state of complete  ignorance;  all  with  the capacity to  kill and ‘de-humanise’ many of their  fellow   human  being  and destroy countless  other numbers of non-human  species. The most ‘wonderful’  extreme   example of that  delusion is the majority of the population of the United States  and its so-called ‘leaders”.

The  endless  cycle of myth-making  in  the United States starts with  the  hype  that  the United States was founded by  their  so-called “Founding Fathers’  to  espouse justice and freedom from oppression. In reality it was founded to  ensure that  those who  had money  in  the new American  colony  ,  retained and expanded that wealth. The genocide against  the indigenous population of  North  America and the  exploitation of black  people,  first  as slaves and then  as second class citizens, and the ongoing institutionalized process to  keep  poor people poor  with the  bare minimum of  state support,  puts the  lie to  those noble statements of the Founding Fathers.

Finian  Cunnginham’s elegant summary of the  United States’   brutal  colonial  policy  makes it clear that  the United States’ wealthy  have  never limited themselves  to extracting profit from  those less fortunate  in  their own populations,  but has conducted a centuries’ long endeavour to  extract  wealth  by  war and terror  from  any country   unable to  defend itself from  the United States’ predations.

We should note  however that  the United States is  simply emulating  its previous colonial  oppressor , “Great” Britain,  who  in  turn  emulated their European neighbours’  brutal  colonial  drives, and which  in  turn ,  go  back  to   the empires of Rome and beyond. Exploitation  and the brutalising  of those more vulnerable (and especially other species) appears to  be one of those characteristics of mankind  that  is contagious. For the sake of the planet ,  we now have to  eliminate that  contagion.

However, as Lord Acton noted,  confronting that  ignorance and narrow-mindedness will  not be the answer . To  ensure the survival  of this planet  we must   now work  to  build  a world that  makes it impossible for human  beings to  not only exploit each  other-  but to  exploit  other  living entities . For living things to  survive on  this planet, we must  all learn to  co-exist.

It is now very  fashionable to  talk  about George Orwell’s ‘1984’ promulgations  from the Oceania government  to its population that  ‘War is peace / freedom is slavery [and] ignorance is strength.” And it would appear  governments are  increasingly actively engaging in  this double -speak,  whether using terms such  as “fake news” to  undermine the capacity of people to  explore and understand the world, or  simply through   the  relentless pumping out  of  extreme banal “news” to  numb the population.

However it is important to  note, that  if we examine closely,  we can  see that  all  ideologies engage in  this double-speak. Ideologies destroy our direct  understanding of the world – our capacity as individual  human beings to  directly experience the joy  and sanctity of other living things,  of all  of our  glorious living world.








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