Is ignorance really bliss, or is it just selfishness?
The line between selfishness and selflessness is already a fuzzy one without the wildly inconsistent variable of human opinion as a factor. And as small as we think the world is getting with each burp of new technology, for the most part a majority of our movements and directions are dictated by the range of degrees from an event or object or action we find ourselves from.
When Eyjafjallajökull erupted last month, it apparently brought the industrialized world to a near-standstill, apparently. I say "apparently" because if it hadn't been for the handful of newsfeeds I monitor at Monkworks, it may as well not have happened at all. I wasn't scheduled for a European overseas flight at the time, I didn't have a ticket to Coachella, and I'm not Icelandic. I have no commitments in that part of the world, I have no family or friends in Iceland, and I have no vested interest in airline stock or international travel. Eyjafjallajökull effectively had no effect on me whatsoever.
Now, is this bliss, or selfishness? If I am so far removed from a situation that impacts so many other people in the world that I'm almost unaware of it, to the point where I can effectively say "I don't care about this," does that make me ignorant in a stupid way? Does my uninvolvement in a situation that has no hold over me turn me into an enemy, simply because I'm not with the team?
Arizona's immigration law. Proposition 8. The BP oil spill. All hot-button topics, all relevant, and all polarizing to one extent or another. But the cries of yea or nay that dominate the unavoidable debate almost always drown out the silent and invisible faction of the ones who have no opinion. For one reason or another, (or none at all) there will always be a third side to every issue, involving people who don't know, don't care, or have no investment; emotionally, politically, or otherwise.
So, if we do nothing about something we don't care about, are we guilty of negligence? If we don't care about something that doesn't affect us or anyone within our six degrees, does that make us unfeeling to the plight of others? If we don't involve ourselves in a problem that has no clear solution, are we selfish, self-centered, self-important? How many of us are not furious, not because we're not paying attention, but because we know we can't afford to distribute ourselves so thinly?
Just as the world is not always to blame for an individual's problems, the individual is not always obligated to sacrifice themselves every time the world has a conniption.