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Can ignorance be bliss?  For the last several decades, I was a news junkie.  I prided myself in keeping up with the latest news, be it from NPR, The NY Times, PBS, The New Yorker, or any other progressive media outlet.

When in conversation, if people “got” my news references, I’d give them a positive ranking for being  informed.  If they looked blankly at me, or openly admitted that they didn’t follow the news, I would give them an automatic downgrade.

Now I am rethinking the role of ignorance as an essential self protective device for maintaining sanity in a crazy world.

During political campaigns decades ago, I could be counted on to call strangers while phone banking, to walk unknown neighborhoods and to write letters in support of causes and candidates I backed. During the 60′ and 70’s I’d eagerly join in demonstrations. I telephoned for Eugene McCarthy between breast feedings.

mccarthy200-6b384d4a0c2682cfa0e79a4529e90d3a8e26a70a-s700-c85  In the 1980’s I sat for hours, with supporting materials, at a table in front of the post office in order to engage uninterested people in understanding the importance of voting for the Nuclear Freeze.  I regularly gathered people together in my living room to talk about the urgency of living in a world Beyond War.  I was on a mission. Each day offered an opportunity to save the world from destruction. But, after several years of activism, I burned out.  Our collective efforts did help bring about change, but somehow the issues seemed simpler then. The fervor with which we worked was difficult to sustain.

nuclear freeze

At some point, my penchant for political activism ebbed.

I continue to keep myself relatively well-informed, but no longer have the energy or desire to work for a specific cause.  Crisis Fatigue has set in. Climate change, refugees, Syria, gun control, Isis or Isil, droughts, the Mideast, mass shootings, idiots running for president, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, the Taliban, fracking, oil spills, bee declines, etc.etc.etc.; all my internal warning lights flash “OVERLOAD!”

It’s obvious that some crises are cynically hyped, if not openly manufactured, to drive listeners, voters  and sales.  After the selling of the first Iraq War, I began to feel loathing for most talking heads as well as many news anchors and politicians. By the beginning of the second Iraq War, my distaste was complete.  I’d lost my taste for most causes.


Maybe, in the beginning,  it was ignorance that allowed me  to believe that I/we could continue to effect change in our complex world?

One of the joys of traveling to Japan is that I can shut out the drumbeat of crises more easily than I can at home.  I’ve found it pleasant to “tune out” for a while.  To my surprise, the world goes on, with or without me.  My semi-detached state of mind continues now , even after I’ve returned home.

Because of the language barrier I have in Japan, I cannot understand what their politicians or media talk about.

And, at least for now, I’m liking it!

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Carol Palladini says:

    Thank you for this, Dianne. Extremely meaningful for one who has been there, done that also. I can now read only the first half of some news articles, and that’s progress!….. What keeps me interested and very depressed is wanting to understand what the world might be like for our (and all) grandchildren. While so-called “civilization” appears to be on a backward trajectory, are we allowed, even in our 70’s, to opt out? My answer: give money, not time; and seek out the sane and beautiful wherever we can.
    Lets get together soon and decide how the world might be saved,
    Carol P

  • marf78 says:

    I G N O R A N C E

    D I S A S T E R

    Just waiting to happen
    Hmmm let me think….

    WWII , Watergate, 911, 1969 Oil Spill, 2015 Oil Spill, just to name a few! Lol.

    • devapnek says:

      But of course! I’m speaking on a personal level, which ultimately cannot be distinguished from the universal. Just sayin’! Thanks for your comment.

  • marf78 says:

    Ignorance is a disaster waiting to happen. Hmm let me think ? WWII , 1969 Oil Spill, 911, 2015 Oil Spill , just to name a few. Lol

  • Judi Wallner says:

    A few days ago I was walking with a friend through the gorgeous french countryside and we started to talk about the conflicts in the world. I mentioned to him that rather than fighting to preserve national or tribal identities that the ecological crisis demanded a global effort to find solutions . His response was “well, we’ll never do that.” His comment, if I really take it in, is devastating. Like you, after years of working on causes, my energy is lagging….so am I now part of the problem…are we beyond hope? I find that incredibly sad and worry about the future for all the children now being born. France gives me a respite from this worry. You’ve hit a very difficult topic…

    • devapnek says:

      I agree! I think we ARE a part of the problem and at the same time I doubt there’s a realistic possibility for us to all jump to the same conclusion in time in order to solve the problem globally. I don’t advocate everyone abandoning responsibility, just saying that’s where I am right now . Thanks for your input!

  • Irene says:

    Wow! You nailed that one!

    • devapnek says:

      Thanks, Irene! It’s a tough call.

      • mark dendy says:

        detachment is such an important concept in buddhism. jesus said “be in the world but not of the world.” A Rabbi told me the first thing they tell young rabbis in rabbinical school is “First off you can’t change the world. So forget it” it takes so much energy to follow causes, do social justice work and be involved in environmental advocacy much less the war machine. i do what i can with my limited energy knowing that i can do only small acts and hope they amount to something. I totally get putting it all on the shelf and letting the world spin. You’ve reached a time and place to be able to do that with serenity and you deserve it.
        You’ve done your part and you continue to have an influence by the work you commission.