Ignorance is Strength?
An essay inspired by George Orwell's 1984
Orwell, George. 1984. New York
Knowledge is power; I've been hearing that every day for the past thirteen years. So when I hear the thought, "Ignorance is strength," my brain immediately stands up and begins to shout disagreements. Knowledge is power for the ones with the knowledge, but the ones with ignorance do not have the strength. Knowledge creates the awareness of power, and for some, this awareness develops into an addiction. Once power is obtained, life without it seems unbearable, useless, and worthless. Just as an alcoholic would sacrifice anything for just one more drink, a powerful person will abandon every moral and lesson he learned as a child, as long as his power remains stable and secure.
When the opportunity arises for a power hungry person to assure his supremacy over all people, he must pursue it, even if along with the possibility of complete power comes the probability that all humanity will be sacrificed. This powerful person cannot help but realize that anyone else with his knowledge has the ability to take away his control. His own self-doubt and greed, his strongest human qualities, are the downfall of the human world. If this powerful person was confident in his own ability to govern the world, there would be no need to destroy the possibility of intelligence and awareness among the public as to what he is doing. There would be no need to take away human rights if he was actually "qualified" to take over the world.
Knowledge is what I cherish most in my life. Emotions are flippant and misleading, but knowledge is the basis of reality. Without it, our lives mean nothing. The world could not make sense, and without sense, there cannot be anything else. What are emotions if we do not understand what they are? They would lose all meaning. Knowledge is what holds this universe together; it gives reason to a chaotic world. With knowledge, anything is possible. "…as long as it was intellegible, then it was alterable" (Orwell 168). As long as we have the understanding behind an action, we have the power to change the action.
The most important trait of being human is our capacity for knowledge and understanding of the world around us, as well as the right to change our surroundings to benefit the rest of mankind. When this is taken away from us, there is nothing left. We become merely machines in a world controlled by one mind.
In 1984, written by George Orwell, the power of knowledge is taken away from the citizens of Oceania. They are forever doomed to live in a world of misery hidden under a false sense of patriotism to the one causing their discomfort. The few who eventually do see through this fog of deceit are immediately arrested and forced to believe Big Brother is their savior, even though he is their destruction. Their former knowledge is ripped away through pain, torture, and new lessons drilled into their heads until they can't remember the truth any longer. Big Brother knows the knowledge behind the human mind, and therefore is able to understand it in ways which allow him to twist and reform it into a helpless mass of nerves and suppressed instincts in order to maintain his position as the exalted one. "Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things" (Baker). Without knowledge, people are unable to realize this.
Big Brother has had years of experience, and he has the power to do whatever his warped heart desires due to his success in transforming the ignorant minds of a few people, who in turn transform more minds in an endless cycle that will eventually swallow the world. Because of the completeness of his dictatorship, all those who oppose him are insignificant in comparison to the millions of other people who do not have the ability to recognize the fact that they are many, and if they only had the knowledge, they would have the power to overcome Big Brother. Ignorance is not strength. Strength is the knowledge of one's surroundings and the ability to control them to some extent. Ignorance is being misled to believe one is strong.