To Be Ignorant Is to Be Afraid

To be ignorant is to be afraid, and in the dark mystery of the unknown a man cannot find his way alone. He must have guides to speak to him with authority.— Edith Hamilton, The Greek Way

And, truly, what of good
ever have prophets
brought to men?
Craft of many words,
only through
evil your message speaks.
Seers bring aye
terror, so to keep
men afraid.
— Æschylus
, Agamemnon

Both of these quotes were drawn from Hamilton’s extraordinary book. The Gutenberg Project offers the entire English translation of Agamemnon, which the link above will take you to. Hamilton’s life story is itself fascinating and worth a deeper dive another time. For today, let’s focus on the urgency of climbing the steep hill of the informed. History ebbs and flows and, as Mark Twain said, rhymes.

Much of the world runs on fear and ignorance. Those in the know shake their heads in disbelief at the things the ignorant regurgitate from the talking heads trying to hold power at any costs. That they’re largely successful speaks to the effectiveness of the platforms designed to stoke the fire. We must put out the fires being stoked or eventually be consumed by them.

We dare not be ignorant. Look around at the world and feel the obligation of the informed, carrying the weight of the ignorant. We must look squarely into the eyes of those who would destroy democracy and rise up to meet them. Many will walk through life with blinders on, lest they witness anything contrary to what they’re told. There’s no nuance in the fears they express, no dance with life, merely a cycle of fear of what others are coming to take from them. They don’t see that they’ve already had everything taken from them by their messenger of choice.

The thing is, we can’t change the extremists on either end of the spectrum, we can only shine a light on, and be open to, the truth. Life is a dance with either ignorance or knowledge. We must choose our dance partner with the utmost care, and in turn teach others to dance. Feel the rhythm in the rhyming of history and step towards truth. The alternative is wretchedness and fear. What kind of life is that?

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