Against the Ropes: A Fight for Knowledge
"...for I found myself entangled in so many doubts and errors that, as it seemed to me, the endeavor to instruct myself had served only to disclose to me more and more of my ignorance." – Rene Descartes
Not all battles are fought on a battlefield; many are fought within ourselves. Rarely do internal battles end with a victor, and if they do, the results are seldom non tragic. Today’s battle is between Conscience and Ignorance. Conscience, wearing the blue trunks, is a heavyweight Champion in every sense of the word, participant, challenger and accomplice of our thoughts. Representative of actions that are right in the world, Conscience does battle with its typical foe, Ignorance, the “Rival in Red,” a contender seeking victory over the blind.
The Ukrainian Famine
How can one feel guilty about something they do not know? They cannot. One must know something about the Ukrainian genocide before they begin to feel anything for it. Yet does one really want to know? Knowing what occurred in the early 1930’s might cause me to feel hate and feel anger. Who chooses anger over Ignorance? Who wants to hate? Conscience: 0, Ignorance: 1.
Round Two- A Month Later
I have decided that I want to know a little. I will risk feeling in exchange for some knowledge. I have decided to pull off the blindfold and give Conscience a fighting chance against Ignorance and his close cousin, Apathy, now stepping into the ring. Only the power of my desire to know what happened can save the Champion from certain defeat. Ukraine did not suffer a famine in the 1930’s; it suffered a genocide. A considerable percentage of the Ukrainian population died of starvation at the hands of the Bolsheviks. I begin to feel. I do not like how I start to feel: I want to close off, I want to tell myself that this kind of horror does not happen. Perhaps it was all a bad dream, or a made-up story. Perhaps we create these past horrors in order to make our present world seem like a better place. But the reality is that I can no longer deny it. This is history, and I can only choose now how it is that I will react to such information. Conscience, though seeming to have the upper hand, finds itself against the ropes as anger takes hold. Ignorance again takes the upper hand.
Knockout. This morning I hear about the capture of Saddam Hussein, and about pending terrorist attacks, everywhere. All these headlines make me feel surrounded by a sea of hatred and I chose not to add to the stockpile. It has to stop somewhere. I choose, once more, to learn. The violence can only be overcome once Ignorance has been beaten. It is Ignorance that wants me to believe that another race, religion, nationality or ethnic group is inferior to another. It is Ignorance that feeds all stereotypes. Conscience wins. It is my duty to learn about the past, my past, so that my actions can have an effect today. The more we learn, the more we are appalled at the death of 7 million fellow Ukrainians and the less we are likely to allow such atrocities to occur in our generation.
HEADLINE: PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE SUPPORTS CONDEMNATION OF UKRAINIAN GENOCIDE
“ Budapest, November 4 (MTI) –
…The Ethnic Ukrainian Authority of Hungary had asked the Hungarian Parliament to declare its solidarity with the Ukrainian people and to acknowledge that the famine which decimated the Ukrainian people was in fact genocide...
…the famine that claimed the lives of millions of people in those years had been brought about deliberately.…
…the events of the time could have been investigated more thoroughly and greater attention could have been focused on what …
..The Ukrainian Parliament passed a resolution in May of this year, acknowledging that the famine of 1932-33 was genocide.”
Exhaustion. Horror besieges us everywhere we go. The news, the movies, the books, our imaginations. It seems as if we are forever meant trying to extort pleasure from suffering. Yet there will always be hope. Knowledge. Ownership. Responsibility. The empowerment of Conscience stems from these three fundamental truths, but our Conscience will never fully win this battle, because nobody can bravely seek the truth instead of illusion all the time. One informed person in a sea of ignorance can not take responsibility for such evil alone. This is why I write on, to help others win their own internal moral battles and to defeat Ignorance once and for all.
It is late now. There are only a few more hours to write, rewrite, edit and perfect. Do the words leap from the page and etch themselves into the reader’s mind? Will this, in turn, lead to the defeat of Ignorance, and set the Champion in the blue trunks back on his rightful throne of morality? No parent can judge the merits of his own child; they can only hope that their child will be judged favorably by others. Thus it is the same with authors and their words. There is always that hope. That is our hope.
Descartes, Rene. Philosophical Writings, ed. and trans. Norman K. Smith (New York, 1958), pg. 95.
- Ukrainian Genocide. Online. Available: http://www.brama.com/survey/messages/24777.html. December 29, 2003.
Posted by Hungarian News Agency (MTI) on November 26, 2003 at 20:55:29:
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