Ignorance might not be bliss, but it is easier. Ignorance is choosing not to know information usually at someone else’s expense.
Before going to Nogales I was ignorant and I have really no excuse. I live in an age where information is more accessible than ever before. Yet, I did not know there was a wall splitting the city of Nogales, I did not know the number of migrants coming into the U.S. had decreased, I did not know America’s immigration policies, and I did not know the history of the American/Mexican border. I am not saying it should have been expected for me to know everything before going to Nogales. Instead, the issue is I had every opportunity to know more than I did, long before this trip was even an opportunity, but I chose not to.
I have been grappling with why I chose this ignorance because it was a conscious decision. The reality is I chose to ignore migration in the U.S. because it was easier.
To understand migration in America, I first had to acknowledge my own ignorance and then presume that this ignorance is nationwide. If more Americans understood the border I would like to think there would be much larger outcry, regardless of political orientation. If most Americans knew how much money was being wasted on checkpoints that do nothing or a wall that does nothing, but were solely established for political show and used to create fear, there would have to be public protest.
Instead, we go on with our lives in ignorance, because it is easier.
Jon Sobrino S.J. in his speech at the 1990 Regis graduation says “being human means, I would say first of all, to live in the real world in which we live”. This gets at this idea of coming down from all of our ivory towers and understanding reality and living reality. His entire speech is truly a rejection of ignorant bliss. A rejection of ignoring suffering.
It is hard to acknowledge my own ignorance and the harm it has caused. However, it is right to acknowledge my reality and live with humanity not above it. This whole experience has allowed me to better understand the connection between knowledge and a reality from the bottom up. The first step to changing anything is having a fuller understanding, a true rejection of ignorance.