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Self-Imposed Ignorance is Detrimental to a Democracy

The American people pride themselves on the democratic system in which their country functions. The people have the power to vote for their fellow citizens in and out of power. The concept seems simple enough: majority rules. However, it’s far from simple, due to the many variables that could easily turn a sound democratic union into an unprincipled political machine. 

Such anti-democratic systems have many causes, the main two being the totalitarian aspirations of people in power and an ignorant society. The latter is arguably more detrimental. 

In order for people to properly vote for candidates that truly represent and will implement their ideals, voters must not only be well versed in the candidates’ policies but also sound in the comprehensiveness of their opinions. 

Ignorance of the masses|Photo courtesy of The Human Truth Foundation

People in power, unfortunately, have a tendency to do all that is necessary to maintain the power they have been given. This is often done with the illusion that they need “more time” to further implement the policies they built their campaigns upon. An educated populace would not have to settle for less and would not re-elect ill-fit people based on a sheer claim. By applying a complex understanding of the power yielded to the people in a democracy, individuals can rid, to an extent, the government from dictatorial politicians. 

This is not going to say that corruption can be solved if everyone in America reads a book on the way in which the country functions, it’s rather an argument saying that in doing so, America could go venture into a more true democratic state. 

The widespread rhetoric that “ignorance is bliss” is inherently anti-democratic. Those living in oblivion have a false sense of freedom. Although they feel free, their rights could so easily be taken away by the people governing them without their knowledge. This is a result of a lack of awareness and understanding of the policies being implemented and repealed, due to self-imposed ignorance. Citizens in a democracy are not meant to blindly follow, that is the opposite of what is intended when a democratic system is put in place; this is an indirect democracy. 

Ignorance can lead to a democracy turning into a dictatorship without the citizens noticing the regressive changes their societies are undergoing. Awareness prevents corruption. Politicians are employees of the people and should be working as such. 

The creator of Pulp Fiction and When World Collide’s prespective on self-imposed ignorance

An academically and socially cultivated population begins with the individual. One must look beyond their sanctimony and dismantle their own micro-aggressions and biases. Respecting and considering the studies and outputs of professionals–scientists, doctors, etc–, obtaining news and historical education through bi-partisan sources, and most importantly, keeping an open mind are all integral to the process of educating one’s self.  

How could modern-day society look down on the people of the dark ages when they are, quite frankly, replicating the same deliberate refusal to maintain an open mind when faced with a diversity of thought and opinions. In order for people to truly deserve the title of “an enlightened individual”, they must diverge from principles like groupthink and herd mentality. People must not turn down the professional opinions of those more educated than them selves simply becasue they are threatened by the prospect of being wrong; perfection is founded on imperfection.

Infinite heavens as envisioned by Giordano Bruno|Photo courtesy of Dr. Rath Health Foundation

People like the renowned Nicholas Copernicus and Giordano Bruno were endowed with extensive prowess in their respective fields, yet their revolutionary outlooks on the functions of the universe were rejected for being just that, revolutionary. The people were, and still are afraid of being questioned. If modern-day society truly does not want the return of the dark ages, the people most collectively aspire to educate themselves and focus on their own flaws as individuals. The more one knows, the more they realize they know virtually nothing; this understanding is fundamental to an open-minded society. For, as the author of The Brief History of Time once put it, The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is a false sense of knowledge.

About Roaa Alkhawaja

Roaa Alkhawaja
Junior and Opinions/Sunburn Editor, Ro'aa Alkhawaja, loves herself a good week of binge-watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and eating more Nutella sandwiches than should be humanly possible.

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3 comments

  1. Avatar

    This was such a good read. Short but with so much information and I agree with the points you made. So many people don’t realize they are biased or not open minded when it comes to hearing what others have to say as fact simply because they don’t want to be wrong. It’s hard to accept that one may be wrong especially when they think they’ve been right for a long time. And when it comes to our democracy in theory it’s almost the perfect idea but in reality there are so many flaws that many tend to look over or fail to see that it doesn’t work as well as people say it does.

  2. Avatar

    WOW, all i have to say is wow. you are an amazing writer and will do so amazing in your future. i really appreciate reading your articles, you are very talented.

  3. Avatar
    Prisha Puntambekar

    Super cool perspective !!

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