“Dare to be naïve.” — Buckminster Fuller
We think of being naïve as something negative, and we generally don’t want others to see this trait in us. Aren’t the really cool people insiders, those in the know, those who are savvy and worldly-wise and experienced and cynical and acerbic? People no one would dare criticize because the comeback would be swift and stinging. People who are basically jerks, in other words. Hmm, maybe being naïve isn’t such a bad thing after all.
I’m a bit biased on this topic, because I am one who has often felt defensive about being ignorant of many harsh realities. If I hear a really smutty joke, chances are I won’t get it. Not too many years ago, I had to ask someone what “WTF” stood for, even though I’m far too coarse in my own use of words sometimes. Most other pop culture references sail right over my head, too. I was teased and called a “space cadet” in high school. Having married my first and only boyfriend, I never had a romantic heartbreak until he died recently. And you know what? I have no regrets about any of these forms of “ignorance.”
Most of us learn things we’d rather not know as we grow older. That doesn’t mean we have to let that knowledge taint our innocent way of seeing the world. Where did we get the idea that innocence is a bad thing? For the record, I’ve never fallen for an email scam or a fast sales pitch or a phony get-rich-quick scheme. But that doesn’t mean I’m not naïve. It’s just that I’m not typically interested in any of the things the hucksters are trying to sell.
If you tend to be someone who distrusts other people, I imagine life isn’t much fun for you. I’m not saying we should not take reasonable precautions for safety, nor even that we should believe everything our friends and acquaintances tell us. But I do find that I enjoy the day more if I assume, until proven otherwise, that most of the people I run into today are going to be fairly decent types. Not perfect, not even necessarily likable, but fellow humans who are doing the best they can with their own sets of limitations, just as I am.
I wonder…if most of us dared to be just a bit more naïve, would we be happier? Are some forms of ignorance truly blissful? Until we turn off the television, put down the gossip magazines and quit letting other people decide for us what is cool, we may never know. To be sure, being naïve can be risky. That’s why it takes daring.