Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Evils Of Ignorance, Part 3: Willful Ignorance Despite the Ever-present Sources of Wisdom that Lie Constantly Before Us

In two previous columns we have considered the “evils of ignorance.”  Today’s column is part three of that consideration. The title is take from some of the writings of Richard L. Evens, long-time spokesman for “The Spoken Word” weekly broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  I came across these thought-provoking and yet sobering words in today’s early morning reading.  My first thought was that I should have included them in one of the earlier blogs, but upon reflection I concluded they are important enough to be included in their entirety in a separate column.  They are essentially an argument against ignorance, telling us there are abundant resources to gain knowledge and wisdom, including the free practice of prayer.  So if we are willfully ignorant in the face of so many opportunities, we shall one day be called upon to answer for that. I have highlighted several parts which were important to me, but I could have highlighted the entire passage it is so powerful!

There is a widely accepted legal maxim to the effect that ignorance of the law is no defense. And yet, as most of us go through life, we ask to be excused for many things by reason of our ignorance, and we are prone to say to ourselves: “We would do better if we knew better but how may we acquire wisdom and how may we surely know the right from the wrong.”  Let it be assumed that most of us have a sincere desire to do the right thing and that our tragedies and failures come not so much from lack of willingness as from lack of wisdom.  Even making allowance for this, the very fact of our permitting ourselves to remain in ignorance while we are within constant reach of the source of all wisdom, is something to be accounted for.  It was Robert Browning who said: “Ignorance is not innocence, but sin.”  And from another source: “Ignorance, when voluntary, is criminal, and a man may be properly charged with that evil which he neglected or refused to learn how to prevent.”  To state the proposition in another way, we have for our guidance the accumulated record of human experience: the spoken and written thoughts of the great and the wise; the sacred and inspired words of our various scriptures; an active voice of conscience, which is reliable if we have not tampered with it; and an approach through prayer to the God and Father of us all, in response to which we may receive the promptings of the “still, small voice.”  And by all of these, the fundamentals of life are indelibly and unmistakably defined.  They do not change from generation to generation even though our regard for them may change.  With all this before us, why should we ask or expect to be excused for our ignorance or our lack of wisdom.  And if we still insist that our ignorance should be allowed as an excuse for our misdeeds, we shall surely be called upon to answer for that greater guilt by which we permitted ourselves willfully to remain ignorant in spite of all the ever-present sources of wisdom that lie constantly before us.  The real answer lies not in a scarcity of wisdom, but in our own lack of will and determination to acquire and apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Lets think together again, soon.

Richard L. Evans, Unto the Hills, (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1940), pp. 67-68, emphasis added.

1 comment:

  1. The over arching concept of this post is very parallel to President Kimball's discussion on the sin of omission. What are the things in life we are not engaging in? To do good and build the kingdom is a proactive endeavor, we will not become like the savior by sitting on the fence. The same goes with increasing our wisdom and knowledge. Did you know that IBM has recently said that we are not far from the knowledge of mankind will be able to double in a 12 hour period? Enjoy the post.