Maybe it’s just me, but most of the time I operate on a ‘need to know’ basis. I skim, never study, articles about MS, I do terrible checks on my children for head lice, I look beneath the cobwebs in the corners of my living room. If I don’t see it, then it’s not there.
Last week, my husband rescued a little hedgehog from our dog and put it in a cardboard box in the garage, leaving it to me to care for when he left for work. Well. For the morning, I put some water and food down, and checked it was still there from time to time. As the day went on, I tiptoed closer and closer. Eventually, I made up a hot water bottle to put beneath it. I still couldn’t tell if it was even alive. It took my daughter to lean close enough to confirm it was still breathing. A man from the USPCA came and took it away. That was four days ago. True to form, I haven’t phoned to see if it’s ok, because I’d rather believe it’s alive, than hear it didn’t survive.
Ignorance can be so disempowering. Yes, knowledge can terrify you, but it also gives you the tools to help others, and yourself. Like the hot water bottle. If I hadn’t got close enough to find out, I would have believed the hedgehog was dead. If I hadn’t read more, I would never have known that they are working flat out to find a cure for this disease I’ve got. The thing is, whether you hide your eyes or look straight at the facts, life will happen one way or another.
It took a bit of courage to lift my hedgehog up, but if I hadn’t warmed it, it may well have died. Which leads me to a more universal problem. We simply cannot keep telling ourselves that the crisis of our dying planet will go away. It is time to take our hands away, and face up to this horrible truth. Maybe we can still change channels or look away from the car engines pumping fumes into the atmosphere. Maybe we can say “Oh, it’s Christmas” as we pile sequinned clothes and plastic gifts into our single-use shopping bags. Maybe we can hide our faces and block our ears as more and more animals move over to the list of endangered species. Maybe ignorance will protect us.
But it won’t, will it.