There’s a HP Lovecraft quote that goes like this:
“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”
It’s the first line of Call of Cthulhu, one of Lovecraft’s best known works. There’s many interpretations of it, i.e. whether the “its” in “all its contents” refer to the human mind or the world, but I think with the full context, it would seem like Lovecraft is pointing towards the comprehension of the entirety of reality would destroy the human mind. And I’m on that side of the fence.
When you think about, our attention span as humans are very short. For example, the media reports some terrifying news every other day but two weeks later another issue dominates our mind. And I’ve noticed that we seldom see the conclusion to a lot of stories reported by the media. We only know what happens, but we can’t see the repercussions. How many of us heard about what happened in Ferguson back in 2014? How many of us know the results of the investigation? How many of us heard about Cecil the lion? How many of us know what happened to the dentist?
And I think there’s a reason why our attention to this sort of thing is short. For one, at least for me on the other side of the world, these incidents don’t directly impact our lives. And for another, it’s simply impossible for us to keep track of everything.
It’s enough that we feel devastated by huge events of carnage and death, but how many of us realizes that on average, 9 people die every 5 seconds. How many families are ruined in that time? How many lives destroyed while we sit in the comfort of our own homes? How many people are being trafficked for slave labor or forced into prostitution? How many people are tortured for the sake of entertainment?
And while we can empathize with people, can we ever truly say we know what they’re feeling unless we’ve experienced it before? The loss of a loved one. The knowledge of impending death. The fear of abuse. The sick feeling when you know something is about to happen but there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Even as I write this, I can’t truly wrap my head around the scale of cruelty, of heartache and of, clichéd as it might be, evil in the world. And I for one, am thankful for that. I think it is one thing to be aware of it, which is what we should be doing, but it’s an entire different beast to fully comprehend the scope and impact of these events that are happening around the world, even as you read this.
Ignorance is bliss, and whether we like it or not, it’s our way of coping with a chaotic, messed up reality.