Friday, May 24, 2024
Editorial

Ignorance

The word “ignorance” is a loaded one. Ignorance itself is a loaded state of being. Ignorance is also a double-edged sword, a loaded weapon in a child’s hands and a boomerang in untrained hands. Now, it is debatable whether being ignorant is a good or bad thing but the law certainly doesn’t find an excuse, a justification or a defense for any error, short-coming, failure and crime on grounds of ignorance to absolve anyone from punishment. So while ignorance may be bliss and a blessing in rare instances, ignorance is certainly not a desirable state of being ~ not in today’s world when propaganda, surreptitious motives and veiled interests are passed off for facts and history. Ignorance is also further compounded by cultural, religious, political and social biases and prejudices, which again are consequences of ignorance that create schisms in society and state leading to tragic consequences. Ignorance is indeed a very dangerous state of being and its cure lies in an individual’s desire to learn and think for oneself. Right now the entire world is focused on the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, especially because we were doing so well just a few months ago. The reasons for the horrific toll of the second wave of COVID-19 are numerous but perhaps the worst of all is the humongous number of followers juxtaposed with rare leadership abilities. So it is difficult to quantify and qualify ignorance ~ especially of those in leadership positions ~ and the task gets harder with followers. Even in a small State like Nagaland, our leadership positions are filled with followers ~ in fact, they are labeled leaders today because they are followers. Ergo, none should be surprised at the surge of COVID positive numbers and deaths thereof here. Because how do we blame ignorance? How do we blame the ignorance of followers, who are merely following other followers? You see, while the law does not accept ignorance as an excuse, justification and defense for wrong-doing, our culture, politics and religion does and we have always held these be on a higher plane than the law ~ especially Indian law ~ although the same/similar premise of ignorance as an excuse, justification and defense for wrong-doing is universal. So then, it all boils down to transparency and accountability ~ calling out for governance misadventures. But again, how do we blame followers, who are merely following other followers? Who do we call out? The people, who voted followers to power? The Big Corporates that control followers crowding the political space? Followers, who do the biding of non-elected state and non-state actors? Who? There is so much wide-spread ignorance but so little facts, data, information, comprehension, experience, expertise, education and wisdom available that we are today mired in ignorance, which, on our own volition, we believe is our “intelligence”. Blame it on today’s tech-savvy environment simply because we know how to use a smartphone? But knowing how to use technology is not knowledge and wisdom and technology is neither here nor there as far are lived experiences of disease and death are concerned. So, while some in the Government blame the people for the surge of COVID-19 cases in Nagaland, they conveniently forget that the people are merely following the followers at the top state political and bureaucratic echelons, who are following the followers at the top national political and bureaucratic space. It’s all a game of follow the leader ~ the only problem is that the perceived leader is following somebody else too. And it is very difficult to identify the real leader because there are no real leaders but plutocrats who have amassed untold wealth hence power to make followers of those who have been placed in positions of leadership ~ or are in such positions. So, the need for a cure, a vaccine, for ignorance is urgent ~ in the lab of an enabled and empowered people. The first requirement then is autonomous, inquiring and empowering thinking, independent of the influence of all media, propaganda and misinformation spewed by these media, including the Fourth Estate, which has proved to be another follower in India particularly in recent years. Sometimes, it is wiser to remain silent than to spew someone’s cant. Sometimes, it is better to be in the sidelines than to run a race from which no winner will emerge. But all these depend on how much we embrace the state of ignorance ~ in our ignorance.

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