The Bliss of Ignorance

In their journals last week several students wrote about the impact of the visits in Esteli and El Lagartillo.  Below is an entry from Bobby’s journal.

Bobby shopping for pottery
Bobby shopping for pottery

The more time I spend in Nicaragua and learn about its culture and history, the more I learn about the United States.  In this situation, the old axiom of ignorance being bliss is quite true.  The more I learn of the connectedness between this seemingly tiny country and the superpower United States, the more angry and uncomfortable I get.

Before coming to Nicaragua I knew nothing of its history, including the parts that it shares with U.S.  But Pandora’s box has been opened.  I’m now aware of how bloodied our hands are.  The question now is, what do I do?  The blissful path would be to ignore what I suspect the U.S. is doing in other parts of the world, to not pursue the knowledge of the atrocities that I know await me, but that’s not who I am.  I need to seek out the stories like those we heard at the Museum of Mothers of Heroes and Martyrs and at El Lagartillo — stories of mothers who lost their children to violence and hatred — and I need to share their stories.  We can’t sit passively unaware of how our actions or inactions are affecting the world.  If the taxes we pay are going to buy bullets that will kill a mother’s son who wants nothing more than to farm, but who fights because he has no choice, we should know.

Everyone always talks about how they learned so much about other cultures while studying abroad, but I’m learning just as much about mine.  And not all that I’m learning is comforting.