Monday, July 21, 2008

Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

This past week, the phone rang, and it was a guy from the Birmingham news, asking if we wanted a free 1-month trial of the newspaper. I said, "No, Thank-you," but of course he launched into his little spill about what a great deal the paper was and how marvelous it would be. I hate how they do that. How a salesman hears you say one thing, but just takes it as his opportunity to take away some more precious minutes of your day telling you about their product. So, determined not have my time stolen away against my will, I interrupted him, "We are blissfully ignorant about what is going on in the world, and I'd like for it to stay that way. So you see, we won't be needing a paper." I am not sure where that even came from, but it sure stopped him right in the middle of his sales pitch. He sat there for a couple of seconds and then said, "Would one month just be too much information for you?" Can you hear the sarcasm in his voice? So I said, "Actually it would, because its never just one month...Next thing I know, I'll be getting a bill from ya'll because I've inadvertently gone a week over my free month, then there's the hassle of cancellation...Thank you, but again, no." I hung up and laughed a little to myself thinking that that guy was probably going to tell all his buddies up at the newspaper sales center about the ignorant Southern girl he'd just talked to.
That night, I told Jeremiah my little story, and he looked at me with a very straight face and said, "Abby, that just isn't true. You don't want to be ignorant."

"Yes I do!" I rebutted, "I know enough to be aware that our country is in a recession, we're fighting a war, and that the media makes my skin crawl with the way they're always bent towards the liberal agenda. I don't want to pay to have it all splashed before my face every morning in a newspaper."

"But Abby, you don't want to be ignorant. You don't want to sit at a dinner table and have to wear a blank stare during conversation you can't follow because you have no clue what is going on in the world. You don't want to be intimidated by people who understand politics."

Those husbands, sometimes they just know us a little too well! I just wanted him to laugh at my interaction with the annoying salesman, and instead he had me feeling guilty about ignorance...and he was exactly right. There are a lot of areas in life that intimidate me, and instead of taking some time and initiative to educate myself, I just play the innocent little girl card and stay scared. Who am I, Paris Hilton? That certainly isn't who I want to be, but that is precisely the way I had presented myself to that man from the newspaper.
So, there are lots of areas that I need some education. I have decided that I have had enough living in fear about things that I don't understand. Here are a few of the areas I want to conquer:
Iraq: Why are they all killing each other over there, and do I really believe we should be interfering, or do I just say we should because that's the Republican stance?

Afghanistan: Why are we fighting in Iraq if we still haven't killed Osama bin Laden?

The Stock Market: My heart started beating fast just typing that. How does it work? What the heck is it? If it can send Martha to prison, how safe can it be?

The Bank: What is a CD? Do I need one? What about a Money Market Account?

Politics: I get that the Democrats have decided on Obama as their presidential candidate, but is McCain for sure the Republican candidate? If he is, why did nobody ask me if he was who I wanted as my candidate? I still love George W., even though our country does seem to be a wreck.

Gardening: When do I plant? When can I cut my bushes back and have them regrow in a relatively short period of time? How much do I water?

Taxes: If I mess up, and its an accident, can I still go to jail? Does the IRS really want me to save all my bills and RECEIPTS? If so, how long do I have to keep them? What all in our day to day lives do I need to keep track of because it is deductible?

Sewing: Oh yeah! I conquered this fear last week :) No longer will I excuse myself in embarrassment if someone asks, "Did you make that? Is that a Lucy?" No longer will I look at a sewing machine and feel small because it knows more than I do! I am the proud creator of three and a half dresses...they may all be the same style...but we're taking it a day at the time. Mainly, I no longer feel ignorant about it.

There's my list. For all of you to see how little I know. Why didn't they teach anything useful like this in college? Why don't I have a reference book I can read to learn more? All that is past, but I feel like now, I can take one subject at a time and work until I get my questions answered. Then maybe I can go to a dinner party and not tune out you people who talk politics or the stock market or... I know that for me, ignorance has not been bliss, its just been fear.


16 comments:

Katie B said...

Abby, get a subscription to TIME. It has a little bit of everything in it, and it will keep you up to date on what is going on in the World. Honestly it has everything from pop culture to politics. Plus they have lots of charts and stuff if you just aren't in the mood to read. It will come in your mail once a week, totally worth it.

Katie

Tara said...

You're not alone! I have all of those same questions. I look at CNN every couple of days to make sure nothing MAJOR has happened in the world since I don't have a chance to watch much TV, but I am like you in terms of I don't understand the war, stock market, etc. We are about to open a money market account with money that has been in savings for quite some time, doing nothing. All I have heard from our banker is that it will grow faster. Works for me. But I would like to know why and how that will happen. :)

broomes said...

Abby, I wish we could be friends! I know that sounds so stalkerish, but I promise it isn't. You are such an exquisite, honest writer. I know this may not help, but after I run in the mornings I have an hour to get ready and watch the news. You can learn a lot from that, liberally generated though it may be:(

Darby said...

Abby, You are not ignorant by any means of the definition, I think you are a genius and you know JUST as much as people at a dinner table... you just know different stuff. People who know a LOT about the war, stock market, money market accounts, and current events are probably clueless about the stuff that you know so much about. Ask them questions about how to properly care for an infant and/or 2 year old {and then you could go into some chem engineering question and really throw them} and they'll be the ones looking at you with a blank stare! Ask them to install a toddler carseat and infant carseat base, break down a stroller, set up & break down a pak-n-play, fix a bottle, defrost breastmilk, fix a boo boo, change a diaper, give a child a bath, fix a meal for toddler, and you'll be feeling like the genius that you are! I don't know any more than you do about current events {not that I'm opposed to learning about them} I just have 3 other things that take precedence now... so if you learn about all these things {& understand them} enlighten the rest of us mothers out here! :)

Kelly said...

Abby, I completely get your point. My mom loves to go on and on about what Fox News is saying today and I love sometimes being blissfully ignorant. I just feel like sometimes, my brain and my heart can only hold so much---and kids, husband, friends and work is plenty. The news can just get me so worried...and all I can do about it is pray...which I can and do without knowing all the horrible things that God is, I am sure, weeping over in this world. But, Jeremiah has challenged me that maybe it IS my job to be more informed. Maybe then I can pray a prayer more specific than "Lord, help this place and its leaders." I do believe God loves specific prayers.

Haley Wright said...

Hi Abby,

I met you and Jeremiah a very long time ago through Tommy. My parents and brother currently live in Dothan, my father is the Sr Associate Pastor there. I also had the privilege of knowing your mother a little through Abby Downs.

Anyway, I leave in DC now and thought you might like to take a look at this web site.
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/
It publishes the best commentary, news, and links from all points of the political spectrum.

Happy to be one of your readers,
Haley Wright

Rhett, Megan, Claire and Ford said...

I am on the other side of this issue - I'm a current event junkie. IF our TV is on it is tuned to Fox News and I check in on the headlines online a few times a day (that way I can just read what I am interested in and avoid anything that isn't worth my time - celebrities etc.). I got interested in politics by listening to talk radio - I know - sounds dorky and maybe it is but I have been challenged to think about issues that are very important to our family and my children's future. I have had to curb that with the little ones in the car now but it is my special treat when I'm running errands alone - now that IS dorky!HA!

I think it is incredibly important that "we" (young Christian moms) stay very informed and have a very loud voice in what goes on in our world. Too soon our kids will be venturing off into that scary world and their suspicions that their uncool moms are out of touch will just be confirmed if we are! AND most importantly we need to have very outspoken Christian worldview to present to our kids (and our friends at that dinner party)about world events, politics, economics etc. Christ is in everything and is Lord of all (whether they know it or not). We have to show Christ in everything to everyone in our world. How can we do that if we aren't informed or think the news is depressing? God is not just a God of the fabulous suburban American life He is God to ALL nations. The Church in America should be aware of what is going on around the world to support believers there, help bring the gospel there and pray, pray, pray. I understand the busyness first hand but I think if you look at this from a different perspective you can see that the two (our young families and that crazy confusing world out there) are really quite closely related.

All that being said I'm by no means an expert at anything but I try and I think it's important. But if anyone ever brings up anything at dinner you don't know about just come back with some chemical engineering problem and leave them looking dazed and confused.

andi said...

I am so with you, well, I am still in the ignorance part. I don't like to read the paper. I find it boring and all they like to report is how bad G. Bush is and I adore him. The news...a waste of time usually. I like Fox (still gets redundant). I think 24 hour news was the worst mistake ever. They are scrounging for topics, thus feed all of us a bunch of muck for lack of anything else to report. I like interesting topics. I read The WallStreet Journal last fall while at a business meeting with Ben. I used what I read on foreign currency that night while talking with an international business man. So, I can't bash all information that is produced through mass media. I must admit, I was really proud of myself (Ben was too). We, as mamas, have little time to give. I can't wait to check out the site that Haley left you, so perhaps, I can stay up on current issues, in a timely way. It helps that my MIL is a representative...she fills me in plenty on the state level issues. We should develop a Christian based site that helps moms know key points on the state, national, and international level. Real News for Real People. HMMMM....

Ashleigh Thompson said...

Hey,
Always fun to read. Like Darby, I too have other priorities- don't be hard on yourself :)
I am dying to see pics of the Lucy's you made. Also, I am addicted to sewing but find there is no time to do it. If i ever get the girls asleep at the same time-I fall asleep:( Do you stay up all night??

The Hill Hang-Out said...

I grew up in Dothan and remember one time that Dr. Sam Madox preached at our church. Jay and his famiy came in late - just before the preaching started. From the pulpit Dr. Sam said, "I see my son Jay and his family have just arrived. Jay, sing us a song." From his seat in the balcony, Jay came to the edge of the balcony and sang the most beautiful African spiritual a capella. It was so beautiful. I never knew if that was planned or if that was Jay's punishment from his dad for getting to church late, but as a singer myself, it caused me to always be prepared. I always have a song in the back of my mind just in case anyone ever asks me to sing right on the spot!

Bellamia said...

Abby, I found your blog from Darby's. My brother Caleb encouraged me to start my blog for my store and I have loved blogging ever since. Your girls are precious! Your mom shopped with me for them and it wasn't until I came across your blog that I got to see with my own eyes who she bragged and adored so much! Your mom was a jewel and all of us here at my store loved her and enjoyed our conversations with her. She will be greatly missed. Along the lines of being ignorant- Tim and I got rid of our TV a few years ago and we also do not get the newspaper. I feel the same way you did. I am so grateful to not have that filth in front of me every day, but I do think that it is very important to be educated on what's going on in the world today. How can we be fighting in God's army if we don't know who our enemy's are and what they are doing! Heaven does seem so much sweeter and our need for a Savior is so evident when you see how sin destroys and divides! I agree with the other comment, TIME magazine is a great resource, but also World Magazine is fabulous, because it is give a Christian perspective and you can also subscribe online. Tim and I lead a small group and we sometimes use articles from World for discussion and prayer. Sorry to ramble, have a wonderful day!

aubriemcf said...

Abby,
As you know, I usually just write you an email and prefer to carry my anonymity like a security blanket.
But, your talk of facing your fears/ combined with an experience I had tonight has inspired me to let go of my fear and publish my comment instead of e-mailing you.
Although, I fear I may regret even writing this... I realize and sheepishly admit that fear and complacency has been holding me back for quite some time in so many areas. I totally would be lost at a dinner party discussing current events (And, sweet Darby, I fear have no children to excuse this... can I borrow Paige?).
Our church has started a group to explore what being a Christian means. It is centered a great deal about discovering Christ through the various arts: creative writing, photography, painting, music. As I sat in the meeting tonight and I was called out as the equivalent of an officer or founder of this group, I wanted to yell out frantically,"Who me? No, certainly not me. I don't remember committing to any such thing!"
I promise I do have a point (just bear with me- as you always and so patiently do).
So, as I sat in the crackling candle light of the sanctuary watching the light play hide-and-seek with the shadows on the wall, I started to focus on the words being said, "Free to ask questions... Curiosity is encouraged... There are no silly or trivial ideas ... Opinions will not be judged..." . I had a small but significant epiphany: "Sometimes I am afraid to speak up out of fear. I don't want to sound less educated or ineloquent. I often talk myself out of praying aloud in small groups due to the fear that I will sound simple or obvious. If I don't have anything profound to add, then why add anything at all?"
When I came into this quiet space where the words were uttered, "don't let fear or complacency stifle your voice." I felt my heart in my throat for two reasons: 1) I was guilty of being afraid and complacent 2) The possibility of an environment where no questions were to big to patiently be explored or answered, where the phrase "I don't know about that" didn't elicit eye rolls, and where ignorance wasn't judged seemed too good to be true.
All of a sudden, I felt a little less controlled by fear and the urge to burst the bubble I have so carefully constructed around me began to grow.
I even found the moxy to speak up and tell of how I ignorantly felt so smugly superior to Matt before we were married growing up in a home where Church was required, blessings were said before every meal, the Bible was a "must read", and Vacation Bible School and Youth Group were required. I mean I can totally sing the story of Zaceus in two languages... who's the Christian? Ha! Matt had to seek the Lord when he was just given to me. He had to deconstruct what he learned piece by piece like taking apart the disposal and putting it back together again in order to see how and why it worked; in order to trust it. My faith and trust were just a legacy I accepted. I have learned that I am less than superior and humbly and ashamedly admit to my false pride. I was complacent in places where my husband was unafraid to ask for clarification in order to obtain an understanding. I'm constantly working on all of my fears and complacency.
I say all this to admit that I don't know enough about the world and it's affairs. We have do not subscribe to any papers and if the evening news becomes too harsh to hear or too confusing to wrap my mind around then I shut it off. I throw up the plea of not guilty by way of over-sensitivity to hide my ignorance. At a dinner party, I would have no choice but to smile and nod.
Tonight, I realized that my silence is due to fear: of saying the wrong thing or admitting that I have no idea and, therefore, no opinion. And, my smile signifies my complacency to live content and warm inside my small bubble. Your bravery combined with my night's activity has inspired me to attempt to abandon my fear and expand my world along my knowledge.
And, I have to admit, as I took communion tonight (although I didn't take the admittedly "baby step" to pray aloud) I kept thinking, "Abby would like this; the tangibility of it all and the permission to ask questions." No one else came into my mind... just you. Actually, the thought of you filled my heart with a longing to just hear your voice. I read your blog and that need was satiated.
All I need now is to put my words into actions.
And... in the "not so distant future" to plan a dinner party with you and Jeremiah at the top of my invites. A dinner party where ignorance is not bliss, where no fear is associated with questions, and where you and I just might have the courage to shrug of complacency and burst our bubbles just a bit. Or, maybe we should just expand them in order to let some of the answers to the questions become a part of our repertoire. Why don't you take taxes/ prison, the war, and stocks? I'll figure out about annuals, perennials, and when to prune. Ok, so maybe I'm still a wee bit afraid. And, maybe we ought to schedule a years worth of dinners and add in a few lunches. Did I mention you're a far better cook and hostess? As usual, Darby is right. But, then again, so are you and with your choice to conquer the unknown. As for the knowledge you possess, it humbles me. As for your ambitions to expand your horizons, it inspires me. On those two subjects, I feel sure that I have all the information I need to know. And, that's a start...

Mitzi said...

I agree, if Martha isn't safe, who is? Great to know you are sewing!

Kendall Boggs said...

I LOVE what you said to the newspaper salesman!!! I'm going to use that one! Personally Abbs I think you are brilliant and very informed on many issues. The fact though that you are facing areas where you are not as informed and want to learn more is what is important. Not wanting to better yourself is when a person becomes ignorant. I'm a huge talk radio fan and that is where I learn a lot about politics and other stuff. You would love Neal Boortz. Not sure when he comes on in Bham. He is very entertaining but can be "in your face" sarcastic at times which I personally find humerous! Good luck! (oh and Great job on the dresses!) ps...you have inspired Jordan to learn to sew. I'm giving her my old machine!
Loves,
Big K

ashr7406 said...

I will admit these things scare me as well! These days there is NOTHING but bad things on the news. Hardly ever is there a time when someone is talking about something positive thats going on in the community, and it really scares me! I am a chicken to begin with, but hearing all the "Smart" people talk about global warming and things such as a recession really makes me worry even MORE than I already do. You inspired me to start researching a little on my own :) THANKS!

Kellie Patton said...

All I will say is AMEN to what Darby said!!!
Kellie