Nitpicking – Chapter 2: Ignorance is a curse

People share hundreds and hundreds of motivational images on Facebook, Instagram or even my all-time favorite, 9gag, and I rarely see one that is worthy of notice. Most of them are cheesy, clichéd and vague philosophies of teenagers (or grown-ups with the mindset of teenagers), but nevertheless – or precisely because of this – they are very popular. I encountered the following image on Facebook the other day, I thought I’d share my thoughts on this with you:

bullshit1

Of all the motivational posters and images I see on the internet every day, this one caught my eyes immediately because it propagates the hugely popular idea that children are a source of infinite wisdom, and also that “magic” (whatever that means) should be an everyday part of your life.

I really can’t grasp the idea of children being incredibly wise, and that they see the world as it should be seen by everyone else, every grown up, every politician and every scientist. It doesn’t make any sense on any level whatsoever. What are children really? People who were born quite recently, a few years ago. These are people who have the least idea about the world they’re living in, they are the ones who have read the least amount of books, met the least number of people, and had the least amount of conversations with anyone.

Children, therefore, are notorious for being ignorant of how the world really works. But it’s no surprise, since they don’t know anything about other people, about arts, literature, science or literally anything. Why in the love of god should I trust the judgement of a person like that?

The irony in this above statement – that if you could see the world as a child sees it, you could see the magic in everything – is that “magic”, even in its broadest sense, is by definition a phenomenon that you only deem magic because you have no idea of how things work. Some very obvious examples, from the life of a child, would be the existence of Santa Clause, or the Easter Bunny, or that your toys and pets are secretly talking to each other when you’re not around. It took an insane amount of time for me to finally give up on the idea that my toys have personalities. When I fully realized that toys are made of lifeless plastic and when I fully understood the concept of life and lifelessness, I could easily arrive at the conclusion that toys most probably are inanimate objects.

I understand that the above image uses the word “magic” in a slightly different sense. In this sense, magic is benevolence, goodwill – the fact that children are able see the good, the exciting and the wonderful in everyone and everything. But is this a good thing?

My argument is that for some reason reality has become a taboo. It always has been in the past, and even in our comparably modern present it persists to be a taboo. People who don’t believe in magic, people who don’t believe that there is something beyond the material world, people who don’t believe in the soul and in the mighty wisdom of nature and all sorts of things like that are on the brink of society. These people are considered losers – in the sense that they have lost the ability to see this extra layer of existence. This layer of magic. It’s easily understandable why we’re always trying to shelter our children from the reality of earthly existence. It’s because it’s not a happy thing. We make our children read and watch tales and cartoons, we tell them that gifts are brought by Santa Clause and that after you die you go to Heaven. We think if they knew the truth – that none of these are true -, they would end up being miserable and sad.  And who knows, it may be true! Maybe if you gain knowledge about the real world at a very early age, your mind collapses under the pressure of it. But the problems start when grown-up people continue to endorse ideas about the non-existing world of magic.

I’m pretty sure that, even now, if someone read this article and read the words “non-existing world of magic” they would be really upset. They would argue that I’m ignorant and selfish to declare magic and other unscientific things false and non-existent. But that is my main concern, that people who only deal with the physical, material, scientific world, are considered freaks.

Reality is a taboo.

I’m not allowed to say that there is no such thing as a soul.

I’m not allowed to say that emotions are chemical and biological reactions of our bodies.

I’m not allowed to say that Nature is just a huge world of chaos without a purpose, consisting of a body of blindly acting plants and animals.

I’m not allowed to say that gods don’t exist.

I’m not allowed to say that nothing happens after you die.

Because talking about scientific reality is a taboo. People who say things like that are seen as fools, even by the most educated people sometimes. And people who are on the other end of this argument, people who DO think of Nature as a wise entity where all men should return to, and people who do believe in miracles are considered “good people”. How many times have you heard that if you explain something in great detail it loses its “magic”? I never felt this way; actually, I always felt it was the other way around.

A lot of people say that if you don’t see the magic in our world, you can never enjoy its beauty and wonders. They never realize that there are people who are amazed by how things actually work. Most people think reality is boring, and magic and superstition is exciting, but you know why the latter is really boring to me? Because it’s not real. It’s made up. And let me give you a glimpse of what reality means to people like me:

At this moment I’m sitting on a planet, a huge body of rock that levitates in the middle of nothing, in the very middle of darkness and void. Doesn’t that sound unbelievable? You cannot begin to imagine the scale of the universe, or the scale of atoms, still: they remain real. And the proof for me that the realm of reality can be just as powerful and exciting as the world of fantasy is the overview effect, often experienced by astronauts who see the Earth from a distance for the first time. There they actually see the world as it is: a planet sitting in the middle of space. And suddenly they experience a shift of awareness, their problems and everyday annoyances seem to disappear as they realize the inexplicable absurdity and wonder of reality.

From the moment of birth we are forced to hear and read about the Unreal, and for years and years our bias towards fantasies are actively reinforced. And even today, most people still think that seeing reality quite differently from what it actually ever offered us is a gift where I most definitely think it’s a curse, a virus, a disease. And I honestly hope that times will come when parents will raise their children by introducing them to all the good and bad elements of reality at a very early age, so that they can grow up to appreciate the sheer wonders and achievements of the material, physical world, thus preferring facts and scepticism to tales and beliefs in second-hand accounts of miracles. But even then I wouldn’t want to see the world through the eyes of a person who is afraid of a dark room.

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