“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” – Wayne Dyer
“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” – Oscar Wilde
When did we as a culture start taking up the idea that ignorance is the best way to prevent the ills that fall upon our society? When did we decide that our children couldn’t handle knowing the unbiased truth about the world they live in and use that to make a good, educated decision, but instead, must be directed like sheep to unthinkingly follow the path laid before them?
There is so much talk these days about wanting to make a difference, wanting to change the world, to create better lives for ourselves, and the generations to come, but we persistently move in the opposite direction, shutting ourselves off from more and more knowledge, secreting it away under lock and key, instead of educating our children.
Take sex education. Studies have repeatedly shown that abstinence only education DOES NOT WORK. It just doesn’t. It’s basic psychology. Tell someone that they can’t have a thing, can’t want it, should stay away from it, and what do they do? Crave it. Obsess over it and pick apart in their minds until they devise a way to get it, no matter how unwise the plan or unthought out the consequences are. Since the implementation of abstinence only sex education in schools, birth rates have continued to rise and several studies show that there is no evidence that abstinence only curricula had any benefits in that area, nor in delaying initial sexual encounters, rates of sexually transmitted diseases, or lowering one’s number of sexual partners. In fact, in programs with comprehensive sex ed programs, teens between 14 and 19 were 50 percent less likely to experience pregnancy than those who received abstinence-only education (check out more info and the source of that nifty stat here).

“It is interesting to note that trends in abortion rates match the current trends in teen pregnancy rates. The teen pregnancy rate and the teen birth rate have declined by more than 40 percent since the early nineties, according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. The decline, says National Campaign Chief Program Officer Bill Albert, is due to the “magic combination of less sex and more contraception.”

There is a way to keep the trend going. Research tells us that information has a protective effect, and information plus the availability of contraception reduces teenage pregnancy, STDs, and abortions. The data leads to some inescapable conclusions: repressed sexual culture equals earlier sex, less ability to refuse sex, more unwanted pregnancies and thus more abortions. Effective sex education programs have been shown to decrease sexual activity and to increase contraceptive use among those already sexually active.” – Yvonne Hamby, JSI Research & Training Institute (source)

I could go on and on into that particular topic, citing references about the misinformation that is given out by some abstinence only programs or going off into the religious views on sex, abortion, birth control, and the whole lot, but I’ll simply leave it with a quote by Alton Lu, a wise beyond his years 18 year old in high school dealing with our nation’s sexual education curriculum: “Those who do not support abortion and adamantly despise it should be at the front lines, battling for the use of birth control. The best way to stop abortions is to ensure no unwanted fetus is created. Those who do not support abortion should be crying out for true sexual education, not the useless dribble called abstinence-only. There would be no need to save the life of unborn babies if people are able to prevent a pregnancy. I would question those who do not agree with my ideas. A paradox has been created with those who fight to stop both abortions and prevention. If you bring down abortion, prevention must be lifted up. If you bring down prevention, abortion must be lifted up… Or there’s the off-chance these religious zealots can actually convince the people of the United States to not have sex…”
We teach our children to “just say no” to drugs. And because we do not teach them what they are, what they can do to people’s lives, and WHY we are saying “just say no,” they sneak out the window and try them out in secret, or at parties where they are vulnerable and unprotected from the aftereffects of such experimentation.
We’ve banned books and censored television/movies; we’ve downed adequate education about the dangers of debt and the consequences of sex. We’ve given up on teaching our children to make good decisions guided by their moral compasses and determined that it’s best just to keep that information away from them all together.
We require extensive training and testing to learn how to drive a car, but not to own a gun or to vote for those that will lead our country. We rigorously prepare to get into a good college, but not on how to deal with the daily stresses of every day life or the ups and downs of intimate relationships. We require legal protections to buy a house, but not to get married or have a child. We learn about the value of material goods, but not the intrinsic value that we each, as human beings, have.
We, as a people, have lost sight of what is important. We have gotten so caught up in who can have more, do more, be more, that we have forgotten to enjoy the journey and the things that we learn along the way. we are so wrapped up in our iPhones and androids and Kindles, iPads, laptops, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, anything to keep us constantly connected and blasting our lives out over the world wide web 24/7, that we have lost the value of a conversation, we have forgotten to prioritize our own relationships, we have opted to make our private lives public for the sake of having a momentary glimpse of what it is like to be “famous.”
We don’t educate our children about safety, but instead terrorize them with the terrible things that happen in our world, traumatizing them without having any lesson be learned from the pain.
People speak out about the violence in our country. They want to ban guns or put armed guards or metal detectors in schools to prevent school shootings, they want to have more and more in depth scans and procedures at the airport to prevent events like 9/11 from happening again, they want to make things like access to adequate prevention and contraception illegal or unreasonable to obtain because people are convinced that it will lower the amount of people having abortions, unplanned pregnancies, and sexual transmitted diseases, they want to outlaw gay marriage because it will tarnish the sanctity of it and lead to god knows what else…. and on and on and on.
The list of ignorant, inane dribble could take up enough room on this page for you to read it until you die, but I’ll cut it off there. The point is this: Ignorance does not solve anything. It does not save our children, make our neighborhoods safer, or improve our lives. Education does. Every problem that we have along these lines could be rectified, or at the bare minimum improved, by educating the people. Will they still make the same stupid mistakes? Possibly, but at least they will know what the options are and what they can do to manage the consequences afterward.
Want to lower the abortion rate? Educate young men and women not only about the wide variety of contraception that is available on the market today, but about the consequences of choosing to engage in sex, both physical and emotional. Teach them that it is not some dirty secret to be kept, but an expression of love and connection that ties people to one another. Eliminating the option of contraception and abortion isn’t the answer. Because people will find ways to do it anyway that are unsafe and unregulated, and people will die. Teach them about the emotional and psychological ramifications of having an abortion or giving a child up for adoption.
Want to keep kids off drugs? Educate them about the effects that they have on lives, share with them stories of kids who have been affected by, addicted to, and gotten over using drugs. Take them to an AA or NA meeting; hell, bring it to them. Let them learn through the experiences of others that it can happen to them, to anyone, and hopefully, learn from the struggles of others.
Want to reduce school shootings and the like? Stop scapegoating guns and deal with the real problems at the source. Eradicate bullying in schools and learn to properly address issues of mental illness. Anything can be turned into a weapon in the hands of the right person, so let’s take a long hard look at what the impetus is behind these tragic events. Not only that, but let’s get our act together when it comes to weapons. Banning guns is not going to help. Frankly, it’s not going to work. All it is going to do is take guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens. But really, is anyone with nefarious purposes going to pay any attention to that? Heck no. So again I say to you, EDUCATION. Teach people about weapons. Teach them about respecting life and why they aren’t toys. Train people about how to safely use and store them BEFORE you go handing them a license to buy or own them. Illinois has some of the strictest gun regulations in the country and even they are a joke. All you have to do is fill out an application, send the state $10 and not have a record, and presto, you can own a gun. We make 15 year olds take classes to be able to drive a car, why would we not require the same of anyone trying to own a gun?
Want to eliminate domestic violence? Let’s teach our kids about how to love and respect one another, not just now, but every day. Not just when we are happy, but when we are angry and upset too. Show our children that relationships are about partnership, not control. Teach them that real love doesn’t involve abuse.
Problem with gay marriage? Get the hell over it. People are people and we all have the right to love whomever we choose. Gay people have as much right to screw it up as the rest of us. And as far as that nonsense about it ruining the sacrament of marriage…. well, please, tell me how our celebutantes’ quickie marriages that are annulled with 72 hours respect the sacrament of marriage. Tell me how a husband who cheats on his wife, or beats her, is a better representation of the sacrament of marriage than two women or two men who love each other and remain faithfully loving and respectful of each other. Or how about that argument of how it could lead us down a path where some day a man might want to marry a dog? Seriously? Is this really even an argument?
We have always feared change. It is probably coded somewhere into our DNA, but the world, it is a changin’ and we’ve got to learn to roll with it. Not only that, but we need to stop being so Type A control freaks and trust that our kids will have the smarts and the compassion to make good choices. Hell, our parents trusted us, even though we were screw ups once too; the least we can do is give them the benefit of the doubt, arm them with all the knowledge we can, and then send them out into the world to make shape it as their own.