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The Bliss of Ignorance

I write the daily prompts for NaBloPoMo weeks in advance so I can have threads running through the whole month.  Then I upload one each night according to a calendar I create. (Oh, you thought my analness had limitations?  No, you were wrong, my friend.  And yes, the calendar is colour-coordinated.)

Sometimes I read them and suddenly want to answer them too:

Would you rather always know the truth or remain blissfully ignorant sometimes?

My kneejerk reaction is to choose truth over ignorance figuring that I would rather know emphatically where I stand than flit through a relationship without realizing what the person truly thinks of me.  I’d rather know that someone did something horrible, that they planned to do something horrible, that they didn’t do something horrible but seriously considered it for a long period of time.  I think it’s the same impulse that makes me sometimes flip a few pages ahead in the book even knowing that I’ll get to page 136 eventually: I would rather know everything than not know something.

But truth is sometimes incredibly, unmanageably heavy, AND you can’t set it down.  You can’t unknow truth.  I’m thinking that there are something things I’d rather not know.  That truthfulness isn’t always admirable.  I don’t really agree with Billy Bragg anymore when he sings: “He said that some things are really best left unspoken / but I prefer it all to be out in the open*.”  You know, like Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar.

I don’t know — where do you stand on knowing the truth?

* Actually, Billy Bragg was singing about sex and how we’re squeamish talking about it.  So yeah… I guess I still stand by Mr. Bragg and agree wholeheartedly with him.  We should talk more about sex.  But not when I co-opt his lyrics and make them about truth-telling.

Off-topic: For those seeking the Healing Salon list of host blogs, it was posted last night on the LFCA.  You can jump through the conversations and leave your thoughts.


1 manymanymoons { 03.12.12 at 9:43 am }

I wish I was a little more “tell me like it is”, but in truth I need some serious sugar coating most times. In fact, I think I even prefer it when my friends beat around the bush when it comes to telling me things I don’t want to hear than actually just coming out and saying it.

You know how some people eavesdrop on conversations. I NEVER do that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m nosey as can be, I just never want to inadvertently overhear some hard truth about myself. It’s absolutely not a good way to be I know, but I be who I be.

2 anon reader { 03.12.12 at 10:20 am }

i love billy bragg 🙂

i’d *rather* be ignorant,
but its better to know the truth in the end.
that’s the hard fact of growing up.

3 Denver Laura { 03.12.12 at 10:51 am }

I have a history of breast cancer in my family. I have the option of getting the genetic test to find out if I have the gene. I am opting not to know. Even if I did know, I’m not sure I would do anything differently about it.

Then on the flip side, we have unexplained IF. In this case, I think I would rather know – have an answer. If I found out 5 years ago that no matter what we did, we still wouldn’t get pregnant, I would have done things differently.

So I guess in between knowing and not knowing, I would rather know the truth if there is something I can do about it.

4 Cristy { 03.12.12 at 11:21 am }

Hmm, that’s a hard one. The problem with ignorance is that usually there is a point where you do learn the truth. That said, there are definitely moments for learning about situation that are far easier to process than others. So, ultimately, it is situation dependent.

5 Eve { 03.12.12 at 12:15 pm }

Yes, it depends. I think there is often a false-belief that ‘knowing the truth’ can bring about resolution…and this is not always the case. A very good friend of mine lost her 6 year-old-son in his sleep several years ago – no medical reason that they can determine. With my stillborn son, they also never gave us a reason for his death. I have come at peace with not-knowing. I sometimes think that knowing an ‘exact cause’ might actually lead me to more feelings of guilt (say I had done something wrong) or anger (say the doctor had). But all in all, we really do live in our own fragile house of cards. It’s a survival mechanism…who would even want to venture out in the world if we were completely conscious of the ugly thought others may have about us, the threat of terrorism, cancer, war or fact that an awful thing might happen to us at any second? After you go through a significant tragedy…it is normal to lose your self-protected state of safety – and is is awful. I have been able to unlearn the feeling (mostly) that anyone could die at any moment…and I am so grateful for that.

6 a { 03.12.12 at 12:17 pm }

Oh, I always want the truth. I have a nose for insincerity anyway.

7 Tigger { 03.12.12 at 12:24 pm }

I prefer the truth, but truth doesn’t have to be harsh. There are ways to cushion it and still tell the whole truth.

8 Her Royal Fabulousness { 03.12.12 at 12:34 pm }

I prefer truth because often the truth isn’t as bad as I fear it will be 🙂 But seriously, I would rather know because in the end it catches up with us anyway.

9 loribeth { 03.12.12 at 3:39 pm }

It’s nice to remain blissfully ignorant — but at some point (as HRF notes above), I find it usually rises up to bite me. :p

10 Tiara { 03.12.12 at 4:20 pm }

As always, I’m waffling on this one…Bob Seger’s lyric rings in my head “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then” I’ve felt like that a lot over the years, wishing I hadn’t found out this or that so I wouldn’t have had to be hurt. But in the long run I guess I’d rather know than be oblivious…

11 serenity { 03.12.12 at 5:12 pm }

I’d rather know, hands down. Because otherwise I’m left wondering and coming up with my own stories and everything’s a moving target based on the analysis I assume at that moment. If someone tells me, straight out, at least then we can start with a fixed point. Otherwise it’s all conjecture.


12 Erica { 03.12.12 at 5:40 pm }

It depends. I think of Emily Dickinson’s “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” It would be nice to think that there is a way to clearly and fully express the truth, but I find that sometimes the truth has many facets, and trying to describe them all can get me into trouble. Trying to find common ground & common language to talk about truths can also be trickier than we’d like. I am very language-sensitive, as is my husband. We have to be very careful sometimes when we talk to each other because we both tend to pick apart words and phrases. Sometimes this is fun & funny, but sometimes it’s very prickly and it’s easier to not go into the truth in too much detail.

13 Sara { 03.12.12 at 6:40 pm }

I think it depends. I’m all about talking about sex, but I think that there are some truths that are totally unhelpful. For example, if the thought “wow, she really looks haggard today” runs through my husband’s head, I don’t necessarily want to hear about it. It may be true, but knowing it will just hurt my feelings, and it won’t otherwise change anything. The fact that he thought it doesn’t make him a bad person, and it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love me or anything else like that, but it would still hurt my feelings. So I think there’s a time and a place for blissful ignorance.

At age 20, I would have voted for truth. I think I’m going soft.

14 V { 03.12.12 at 6:45 pm }

Werid, this just happened to me this afternoon and yeah the truth is good, would I have prefered not to hear it, yes. However, it will set me free but in the mean time I think I will be miserable. Blissfull ignorance hurts more when the truth comes out, you might as well rip the bandaid off in one pull. This must be all over the place, but long story short, truth.

15 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 03.12.12 at 10:37 pm }

I am all about the truth, but in due time — I don’t flip ahead in books.

16 Mina { 03.13.12 at 2:49 am }

I too would like the truth is possible. It bugs me to no end that I can’t always know for sure, and the are so many situations when the truth is just out there, but not in my grasp.

And talking about books, Melissa Ford, I would.have.NEVER thought you could do that, flip pages ahead just to know what happens… How can you?! Where is your analness when you skim ahead? Or maybe I am too anal about that – I have never skipped ahead while reading a book, and when I start watching something, no matter how bad or boring, I have to watch it through to the end. This accounts for many an hours lost on watching crap, I have to say. But, it has also made me improve my selecting skills when chosing what to watch.

Coming back, a uncomfortable truth is preferable to a fake cosy ignorance. Ideally.

17 Natalie { 03.13.12 at 2:40 pm }

I firmly believe it’s better off knowing the truth and facts about any situation – it teaches you and you can react accordingly. But. There are times when I really wish I could remain blissfully ignorant – and be happy and okay in that ignorance – because I think it would be a lot less stressful. especially at 1am when I am worrying about something.

18 Deathstar { 03.14.12 at 11:35 am }

The only truth that I would find useful is knowing and understanding the true nature of my life. My Buddhahood. The ultimate truth is enlightenment. Vague but accurate.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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