Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

In today’s society, it is common for people to get wrapped up in their own lives so their knowledge of individuals or groups of people outside of themselves is seemingly miniscule. This ignorance can result from a complete lack of knowledge or can come from the failure to recognize important information. Sometimes, people do not know that with leaving this ignorance behind them, comes enlightenment and knowledge. Or, in other instances, people’s close mindedness prevents them from even being able to see their ignorance.

So, instead, people continue living in their own world, without knowing the truth about what is going on around them, or knowing what it would be like to step outside their “bubble.” “Jumping Mouse,” “The Allegory of the Cave,” and “Liberal Education and Global Community” are three readings that without analyzation are unrelated. However, after further examination, it is apparent that all three of these writings can be tied to one common theme: ignorance. In each of these, it can be discovered that ignorance leaves people blind to their true surroundings.

In the short story “Jumping Mouse,” written by Hyemeyohsts Storm, a young mouse finds himself following a mysterious roaring sound he hears coming from the woods. When he asked a few of the other mice if they could hear what he did, one of the mice simply responded “no” without “lifting his busy nose from the ground” and when he asked another mouse the same question, the mouse disregarded him only before “slip[ping] into a hole” to avoid the situation all together (Hyemeyohsts, 316). Long story short, the mouse’s curiosity caused him to slip away from his community to investigate the sound. He discovered that the roaring was coming from a nearby river a raccoon helped him to find and it was here he first saw the sacred mountains. After his journey to the river, the mouse returned home to share what he found with the rest of the mice but, to his disappointment, none of them believed him.

Later, he found himself traveling again to find the sacred mountains and after a long trek, he had made it. Only when he got there he was no longer a mouse, instead, he was an eagle. This short story is the perfect example of the negative effects ignorance can have on a person, or in this case a mouse. In the beginning, the mice chose to ignore all together the sounds in the distance, not giving Jumping Mouse attention and staying in their own world causing them to lack even the curiosity Jumping Mouse had. In addition, later on in the story when Jumping Mouse came back from seeing the sacred mountains, the other mice chose to ignore what he was saying. They failed to take into account that there could be a world outside of their mouse community. Furthermore, they failed to recognize that this world outside of theirs could possibly be better than where they were at. By being ignorant to the outside world, the other mice missed out on an opportunity for their lives to expand and be made better. Instead of using their new information, they ignored it, which caused them to be stuck in the same mindset they started in.

In comparison, a similar theme can be uncovered in “The Allegory of the Cave” written by Plato. In fact, looking into it, the cave itself is a metaphor for human ignorance. In the piece, prisoners are shackled in a cave, they find themselves looking at the wall of the cave, where shadows are cast of various puppets. To the prisoners, the cave is their reality. When one of the prisoners is released from the cave, he experiences the outside world for the first time. But, because the cave was all he knew, he rejects the idea that his surroundings could be the true reality. Once he becomes accustomed, he begins to realize that his previous views of reality were incorrect, rather than what he was beginning to see.

When he went back to tell the others what he found, similarly to “Jumping Mouse”, they did not believe what he was telling them and wished not to be set free. In comparison to “Jumping Mouse” the prisoners can be viewed as the whole mouse community, whereas the freed prisoner can be compared to Jumping Mouse. When all the prisoners were in the cave, they failed to even recognize that there could be a world outside of what they knew, similarly to the mice. Moreover, after the prisoner realized his initial view of the world was in correct, the other prisoners continued to choose their previous ideas over the truth and chose to stay hidden in their “cave” instead of going out and being exposed to the truth and becoming enlightened. Comparably, after the other mice were informed of a world outside of their own, they chose to ignore it, believing there was nothing outside of themselves.

Similarly, “ Liberal Education and Global Community” written by Martha Nussbaum exhibits a theme in resemblance to “Jumping Mouse”. In one section in particular, titled “Knowledge in a Time of Fear”, Nussbaum poses the question: “how can we educate American citizens who do not take seriously the reality of lives outside America?” (38). After looking deeper into this question, it is apparent that Nussbaum is referring to the ignorance of American citizens.

It is typical of Americans to be ignorant of other countries and cultures, most are too wrapped up in their own lives to realize what is happening in the developing nations surrounding them. Comparable to “Jumping Mouse”, Americans can be viewed as the other mice in the community. Americans, like the mice, are too blinded by their daily lives to recognize the world around them. Consequently, both subjects miss out on opportunities. For the mice, they miss out on being able to find the sacred mountains, and Americans lose out on important knowledge of the global community.

In conclusion, “The Allegory of the Cave” and “Liberal Education and Global Community” can be found comparable to “Jumping Mouse” due to the common theme of ignorance. In each of these separate cases, subjects lives are affected due to their inability to acknowledge a world outside of their own. In today’s society, ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is what is going to blind people from knowledge, enlightenment, and new opportunities. 

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