For a little while now I have attempted to adopt the idiom ‘ignorance is bliss’ into my every day life, and for such time, it worked well. Filtering my awareness of the news and of wider world events was like placing myself in a little bubble of my own mundane realities; of lectures and exams, of family visits and friendly conversations. For a while, this was some form of bliss (at least as close as the negativity within my head will allow) however this has recently come to a sharp reality check. If you are lucky enough that the news has escaped your attention, the ban on individuals from certain Muslim countries from entering the USA has shook the western world in a way I’ve never really known.
Even when deliberately attempting to avoid such things, we are frequently exposed to images of war or mass destruction, we constantly hear stories of families torn apart, civilians brutally killed or suffering through conditions that most of us in western societies cannot begin to fathom. In some ways, we approach these scenes like viewing a tiger in a zoo; peering at the possible threat safely through the glass, the barrier between us and them, the TV screen in our lounge. To elaborate on this metaphor, recent events feel like a crack in that barrier, a tiny infraction of the integrity of the glass that the tiger presses his paw against, taunting us, leading us to question its strength; How long before we fall into the enclosure? (As I write I am immediately reminded of the scene from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone and I feel a little more warmth towards Dudley Dursley than ever before). Over the weekend, my doubts in the integrity of the glass became real, the first time I can remember feeling genuine fear whilst reading the news; the first time my own mental health been genuinely shook by wider world events- by a tragedy.
In many ways, I use this term ‘tragedy’ loosely; it is not with regards to physical destruction, no mass loss of life, it is the tragedy of the hatred in the world, the blind prejudice. It is a tragedy that in an age of constant scientific and technological advancement, we seem to be regressing. The tragedy that individuals still view the world through a lens magnifying the differences of the inhabitants. It is as much a tragedy as it is a beautiful symbol of hope that individuals are gathering together united in their acclimation that all people are welcome and treated equally- a tragedy that this should even be necessary in 2017 when it should be assumed as a given. It is a tragedy that messages of love, openness and positivity so desperately need to be expressed in order to counter messages of such gross negativity and ignorance. It feels archaic. It feels like the world is repeating the same mistakes I spent my childhood studying in school. It feels as though the famous poem “First they came for the Jews” has taken on more prominence (to me personally) than ever before.
Over the weekend, as I sat to watch the news, I felt a strange energy in the air, a weird feeling, like an ominous fog at the edges of my vision slowly creeping more and more into view, until it was an overwhelming force that I could not shake. For the first time, I think I contemplated war in a way which directly affects me; plagued by thoughts of what I would do if my loved ones were to fight, or if they were involved in a civilian tragedy. I felt such a deep sadness, such an intense feeling of hopeless; why go about my day-to-day life when the world is such a grotesque place to live? Every aspect of human decency seemed void. In summary, for that moment, I let the hatred in the world win. This was wrong of me, and I encourage everyone to fight that ominous fog. To remember that hatred has met it’s match, that the scenes from protests around the world symbolize all that is right with the world. It may be a tragedy that such protests are necessary, but I praise every single individual who is involved within them for it truly is both inspiring and beautiful to witness.
And so to conclude, dear reader, if you even exist, let me draw your attention to the third and final popular culture reference of this post:
That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.