Embracing ignorance

I believe in information. Don’t you? Seems pretty basic to me. It helps to know that a storm is coming so we can prepare for it. We need to know when school has been cancelled so we can act accordingly. We need information — facts — to live.

Criticize news media if you like, but we depend on them to inform us. Do we trust what they tell us? I can hear the critics chuckle cynically at the question. Yet, everywhere I go I see people wearing face masks. Why? Oh, we are in the midst of a dangerous pandemic.

How do we know this? Oh, right.

Most of us seem to trust what we are reading in the newspaper, seeing on television, and hearing on the radio. But if we are honest, we don’t trust all of what we are told. What we trust depends on our source of information.

Now we find ourselves living in a time when we are desperate for information we can trust. Our lives depend on it.

How long will this Covid-10 pandemic continue to infect us — control our health, our jobs, our educational options, our travel, our food sources, worship, recreation? A few more weeks? Months? Years?

We don’t know. No one does, so we cling to what fragments of information we can glean from daily statements that come to us from a mixture of sources — not facts, really, but opinions. Guesses. Some of them educated, some not so.

So it is up to us to decide: Whom shall we trust, the scientist, the physician, the politician? Our own gut feeling? You choose.

My gut is telling me that we are in for a long period of change wrought by this pandemic. Long. Years. If I’m right, this would be especially unwelcome news to people my age, whose remaining years are few. How will we spend them?

I want to know. Don’t you? The truth is, no one knows, not scientists, not physicians and other health care workers, certainly not politicians.

How will we cope with our ignorance?

“To know that you do not know is the best. To think you know when you do not is a disease. Recognizing this disease as a disease is to be free of it.” — Lao Tzu

(Lao-Tzu was a Chinese philosopher credited with founding the philosophical system of Taoism. Scholars believe that he lived in the 6th century.)

 

 

 

 

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