Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Only Ignorance

There are times when I wish I don't have easy internet access. You learn to live without it when you don't have it. But when every time the laptop is on and you'll see the network symbol in the toolbar showing the enticing blue balloon, and the ever-so-tempting e is sitting pretty on the Quick Launch ... "I'll just check my emails" rarely means what it means.

Black Beauty. I bought this exact version for RM2.90!!! It was in a very good condition, I assure you.

Between quizzes, group assignments, Twitpic and YouTube, I managed to finish Black Beauty! That... is not much of a feat since the book is so thin and... easy. It's from a horse's perspective, for god sake. How complicated can it be?

My first time reading the book was ages ago (I even watched the movie!), and this time around, one particular chapter named Only Ignorance stuck with me for a long time.

In the book, a certain John Manly was upset with one Joe Green (I know, they have such simple names) because this one night when John (who takes care of the horses) was away on an emergency, Joe, being a novice made a mistake when attending to the tired Black Beauty, causing the creature to fall sick soon after. Joe's father told John to be easy on the boy since it was only ignorance that caused him to make Beauty sick.

John said 'Only ignorance! Only ignorance! How can you talk about only ignorance? Don't you know that ignorance is the worst thing in the world, next to wickedness? - and which does the most mischief Heaven only knows. If people can say, 'Oh! I did not know, I did not mean any harm,' they think it is all right.'

Ignorance is indeed bad. 'A woman should never undertake to nurse a tender little child without knowing what is good or what is bad for him,' said Mr. Green when John mentioned an incident where a woman was tried for manslaughter for accidently killing a baby by giving him the wrong medication.

It is bad when you simply assume things. It's bad when your don't-bother-to-find-out attitude affect the well-being of another person (or horse). It's bad when you don't change your unfavourable behavior because you don't know it's unfavourable in the first place.

Hmm... about the latter, what can we say about people who genuinely don't know? I mean, if the situation around them does not show anything that might suggests their conduct is not acceptable, how will they know that they need to change? Is it our responsibility to scrutinize every other person's reaction in detail to figure out if there's something wrong with us?

Take a friend of mine for example. She previously didn't know that sometimes (she's kidding herself, it's actually a lot of times) people around her do not mean what they say to her. They do not dare to speak freely in front of her. To her, they are all good friends and good people who think of her that way too. Even her close friends, whom she entrusted with the simple job of letting her know when she is being aggravating, do not tell her what they really think. And so she was in this state of blissful ignorance thinking she is liked well enough by her peers. Sadly, this is only true in her imagination.

The truth came a-knockin' one day when one of her friends made a passing remark that put her in a semi-depressed mood. 'If my close friend thinks that way, what about other people?' she thought sorrowfully. Reality hurts. No, it's not like they hate her or anything; they are actually afraid of her. They do not dare to tell her things that might upset her, and they ask for favours through other people (who are not afraid of her). That is something she need to change. But she never knew this, of course. Why? Because they are too afraid to say they are afraid of me! ......I mean, her. They are afraid of.. her. Hmm. Yeah.. Moving along...

So what do we say about that? Is there a line between being unconcerned/not bothered with genuine ignorance? What is genuine ignorance, anyway? It's one thing if you do things based on your limited knowledge or assumptions, but to be blinded from knowing the actual situation is another thing altogether. You might argue that there are surely signs that we can look out for, like telling expressions or empty words, but what if you don't think there is a need to look for those little signs? When you are ignorant of your ignorance?

Ignorance can be just as bad as wickedness, but not always. I say there are different levels of ignorance;

refusing to bother with what you seriously need to know (Joe Green),
being unaware of the things you are lacking (my, erm... friend),
not knowing things that are better to not know (ignorant is bliss situation),

and possibly several others.

I'm being defensive here, but I know that sometimes a little ignorance is what you need to move on in life, to be brave, to feel happier. You are better off not knowing certain things. After all, 'All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure - Mark Twain'.

Hmm... Writing skill seems to be a bit rusty... I kept using 'things', didn't I? Then there's the unstable flow of sentences throughout. And you call that an ending?? *shake head at oneself* Too much non value-adding inputs from the internet is making my mind a bit mushy. Now that the final examination is so near, there'll be even less time for books (besides textbooks), never mind YouTube. I have, however, started on Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro. I'll just see how that will progress.


  1. I have a Black Beauty graphic novel(comic). And it's for my year-end test!! XP


    Somewhat relevant to your (friend) situation, even if the article is an obvious lie (lol). Sure, it's over the top, but it highlighted the fact that talking behind the back is a norm, and how they are only open when they can't take it anymore.

    The truth hurts. Definitely.

  3. Miss Anonymous: Graphic novel is no fun.. Get the real thing (or borrow from me ;-))

    Mr. Faulty Fault: Funny article, thank you. I don't think those people will ever come out with the truth, but it's not wrong to hope, isn't it? Hopefully my friend there would not be as dumbfounded as the guy in the article when she found out =P

    'Ignorance is bliss' is so true.