Ignorance as Occasional Bliss
By A.D. Freudenheim

30 July 2001

Every year at about this time, I take off a few days for a brief vacation. I do not leave the country or go anywhere exotic, but I get away from home, spend time relaxing with friends, and attempt to leave most of the complications of the world behind; it is a few days spent without the intrusions of e-mail, television, or newspapers. At times, it feels as though the rest of the world stops, even if only briefly.

Except that the world does not stop. Returning home, I instinctively turn on the news; I feel the need to "catch up," and so I listen to updated versions of the stories that were already running, like endless loops, before I went away: bombings, shootings, assassinations, and harsh words in the Middle East; political stagnation at home, hidden under the cover of some transparent rhetoric; America, Britain, and continental Europe jockeying for power and prestige, while trying to salvage their increasingly-entwined economies; and repressive governments from China to Zimbabwe lurching backwards and forwards, opposing any attempts at political reform while trying, somehow, to reform themselves enough to stay in control.

This is to name only a few items from a long list of events, filled mostly with human disappointment and suffering. Within that negative framework, many people try to make sense of the world by drawing mental and emotional sustenance out of sources ranging from the rituals and tomes of organized religion(s) to disparate self-help routines and texts (Harold Kushner's "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" comes to mind). Perhaps it is a natural human reaction to place blame, to look for fault in others as the cause for our own miseries. Just as likely is that each of us - whether acknowledged or not, and on varying scales - formulates our own philosophy of life as we assimilate news of the world within an understanding of our own experiences.

The end game of that existence is to articulate one's philosophy, to change an internalized view of the world into a palpable, expressible sense of personal direction. Only by doing this can people actively apply themselves to solving their problems. For me, my annual ritual of taking time out serves as a reminder of just how much there is left to accomplish in the world, but the time spent among the trees and the fresh air is also rejuvenating. It is what makes it possible to return to daily life, to the routine of listening to and interpreting the news, and to viewing the world as a place that - for all of its horrors - is also filled with challenges, triumphs, and joy.

Copyright 2001, by A.D. Freudenheim. May not be used in whole or part without written permission. However, you may link to this page as desired! Contact A. D. Freudenheim for further information.
This page is part of: The Truth As I See It.