Innocence Is Bliss

“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”

-Patrick Rothfuss

The saying is “Ignorance is bliss” which means that what you don’t know, you don’t have to worry about. But ignorance is a choice; the ignorant chooses to remain uninformed, the ignorant chooses to not seek out the information that will require them to think or act. That is only bliss for that individual who is choosing to remain ignorant while others around them are left to pick up the pieces. Innocence on the other hand is defined as “free from moral wrong; without sin; pure.” While none of us reading this would qualify as being innocent per this definition, there was a time when we were the closer than ever to innocence and that was when we were children and everything was blissful.

I have a two year old son, Brooks, and while he knows right from wrong, and does at times pushes those boundaries; he is what I consider to be innocent. He finds joy in the mundane and simple things in life; the rocks he collects on our walks around the neighborhood, the trash truck, the dandelions at the park. These things give him that feeling of bliss in a way that no adult can remember having. When I see Brooks taking rocks from the neighbors yard I think about how much those cost at Home Depot, when I see the trash truck I wonder if I remembered to take the cans out, when I see the dandelions in the grass I think about the yard work that I need to do this weekend. I, like the rest of us, have lost my innocence towards those simple things.

As a parent, I want Brooks to remain innocent and blissful for as long as possible. While I don’t want him to grow up naïve and sheltered in a way that will be detrimental to him being well rounded; I also don’t want him to have to think about the harsh reality of the world around him, or to worry about what injustice and harm could be lurking around the corner. British novelist, Kazuo Ishiguro, once said “When you become a parent, or a teacher, you turn into a manager of this whole system. You become a person controlling the bubble of innocence around a child, regulating it.” That’s my job. To control the environment around Brooks until I feel like he is ready to comprehend the realities of this world. The things is, I don’t know when that transition takes place. At what point does a rock stop becoming a treasure to bring back home to Mom? At what point does the dandelion become a weed that needs to be pulled instead of a beautiful flower? I know he is too young to understand such travesties as the pandemic we have been living in, the conflicts and wars being waged around the world, and the nonsensical violence that occurs everyday. In fact, I wish that he would never have to understand such things, but I know that some day he will have to.

Screen Writer and Director, Geoffrey S. Fletcher is quoted as saying, “I’m interested in how innocence fares when it collides with hard reality.” While I don’t know the context of this quote, I assume it relates to what he is trying to capture in his films; but it is also real life. We were all innocent once, we were all blissful; and at some point reality crept in and stole that from us. I am not a pessimistic person, I try to view the world in a positive light but that seems to have become more difficult as I get older. I have been blessed in my life and have not had to experience or overcome nearly as much or as brutal of adversity as others have. I can only hope to provide that kind of blessed life for Brooks as well. But I know that at some point in his life reality is going to creep in and corrupt his innocence and while I want to protect him from that, it is also my job to make sure he is aware and prepared. Because, as W. Clement Stone once said, “Truth will always be truth, regardless of lack of understanding, disbelief or ignorance.” And the truth is that while we may all dream and aspire to live in a world of bliss, peace and harmony; that isn’t our current reality. We should strive to keep our children innocent and blissful as long as we can, with the understanding that at some point we need to educate them and put an end to ignorance. Ignorance is responsible for what is happening in the world today, and how we confront the issues we face will have a lasting impact on those we who are innocent from them now.

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