Willful Ignorance Is Our Greatest Challenge

Everyone exercises willful ignorance

We all exercise willful ignorance at one time or another. Yes, we do. Perhaps you just don’t want to hear bad news. Maybe you ignore the mistakes you’ve made or information made available that would make your life easier – better.

I’ll give you a simple example. Perhaps you need/want a new appliance or car or some such lifestyle addition. You see it and want it and buy it. Did you do the proper research to ensure it was a good buy, that it will adequately serve your needs, that it will last, and that the terms were good if you bought it on credit? Sometimes we may do this bit of due diligence, but often we don’t. It’s willful ignorance because we have to spend the energy to pay attention, ask questions, make decisions, and we don’t. We choose to remain uninformed. We all do it.

A global march for climate change

This past Friday reminds all of us that we’re exercising our willful ignorance to some degree. I totally believe in, and witness, the effects of climate change. Good for me, but that’s hardly enough. I contribute to nonprofit environmental agencies. Good for me, but that’s not enough. My willful ignorance causes me to not do much more. Bad for me and bad for you and bad for us.

Thankfully, we get reminded to shift our perspectives. Buzzfeed Newsreported on the Climate Change marchesaround the globe last Friday. Reporting by Zahra Hirji, Matthew Champion, Azeen Ghorayshi, and J. Lester Feder tells us:

Students skipped school, made signs, and took to the streets in more than 3,600 planned strikes around the globe, part of a huge youth-led movement to protest inaction on climate change.

16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg started the movement that swept around the world.

092319 Willful Ignorance

Ms. Thunberg tells us she has a dream, as reported by Independent:

…that governments, political parties and corporations grasp the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis and come together despite their differences – as you would in an emergency – and take the measures required to safeguard the conditions for a dignified life for everybody on earth.

Fridaysforfuture provides several of her speeches, including the one in July at the National Assembly in Paris:

Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope, I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic, I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act, I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire, because it is. 

Willful ignorance is exercised for many social justice issues

We exercise willful ignorance in a lot of public ways beyond climate change. We turn our attention away from a rampant homelessness issue. We dodge the significance of economic disparities and drug addictions and failing schools and global wars. We’d rather not hear it all.

Make it all go away so I can be safe and secure and happy right here, right now … please. Let someone else make it happen.

These are social justice issues we ignore. As an individual, any one of us has little chance to solve them or even make a big difference (don’t tell that to Greta). But we need to open our eyes and become aware of our world and our future. If not for us, then for the generations to follow.

Willful ignorance is exercised over vote suppression

Here’s one more willful ignorance example: we ignore the vote suppression, costing tens of millions of ballots to be cast aside, in every presidential election. People (citizens) have become numb to how we participate in this democratic failing. Most cannot even say they don’t care because they aren’t even aware! Every state exercises a winner-takes-all approach when considering the votes, little realizing that the habitual action disenfranchises so many.

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) is a simple step that erases this problem. The winner-takes-all approach can be removed state-by-state by simple state legislation. Instead of forfeiting over 63 million votes, as we did in 2016, all of them can matter if we but want them to, if we but stop our willful ignorance.

My dream is not as grand as Greta’s. My dream is focused only on the United States and only for our presidential elections. My dream is to make all votes matter, every state count, and the popular consent of the governed be heard.

Our willful ignorance has many fronts. We do the best we can but a good place to start to alleviate this lack is rectifying how we process our votes. It’s not too much to ask.

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By Jerry Spriggs & the Equal Voice Voting Team