By Marilyn Pinto, Founder at KFI GLOBAL

Willful ignorance is dangerously widespread. It’s when we hear but don’t listen; when we look but don’t see. It’s when we know there’s a high probability that a fact exists but refuse to let that knowledge affect or change our behavior.

From our overconsumption of resources that steadily fuel the climate crisis and our penchant for overspending that inflames the debt crisis, to our numbness to the social justice issues that deeply impact the social strife we are witness to – we are all guilty.

While in most cases we may not be legally liable, there is another aspect we should consider here – that of moral liability. Because there is no avoiding the fact that our feigned ignorance of these and other crucial issues isn’t just kicking the can down the road for future generations to solve, it’s also making the problems more entrenched and infinitely more difficult to resolve.

We know this and yet we consciously choose not to act. We choose to maintain the status quo because it’s easier. Trying to institute change and positively impact the issues at hand requires us to climb down from our very tall, very comfortable, ivory towers.

Take the issue of overconsumption of resources. The richest 1% emit the same amount of carbon as the poorest two-thirds of humanity. Yet we know it’s this two-thirds of humanity that will pay the steepest price for this overconsumption. We know that it’s this two-thirds of humanity that will be most impacted by the effects of climate change that will follow these rising emissions. And we know that not enough is being done to mitigate the cause of these rising emissions and the devastating impact it will have on huge swathes of humanity.

Still we wait.

Or take the issue of the alarming rise in teen depression and anxiety in recent times. In his book ‘The Anxious Generation – How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is causing an epidemic of Mental Illness’, author Jonathan Haidt details the adverse impact that social media has on children and teenagers. Again, none of this is breaking news, we’ve known this for years now. What’s shocking is that not much is being done to stem this tide, given how straightforward the solutions are. When these social media companies were faced with growing evidence that their products were harming young people, they retaliate with denial, obfuscation, and massive PR campaigns. The harmful effects of social media continue to irreparably damage our kids and teens.

Still we wait.

The issue of rising economic inequality is another thorny issue that’s becoming harder to ignore. In his seminal book, ‘The Price of Inequality’ author and Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz explains why we are experiencing destructively high levels of inequality. The causes are multi-factorial and complex, they are also related and reinforce each other. The effects are far-reaching and detrimental to societies worldwide. While it’s well known that the economic impact of this inequality stifles growth, the social impact can be less obvious but equally, if not more devastating as it erodes trust and cohesion, leading to increased social tensions and unrest that damages the very fabric of society.

Still we wait.

We hope that these and other seemingly intractable issues will magically resolve themselves. We convince ourselves that there are people who are better equipped to tackle these problems. We determinedly put these matters out of our mind telling ourselves that we don’t really understand the intricacies to come up with effective solutions and so we willfully ignore the problems.

After all, we aren’t personally affected all that much right now. Our wealth and privilege cushion us from the worst outcomes. We’re secure in the knowledge that we could buy our way out of the problem, should we ever be directly confronted.

Yet somewhere in the deep recesses of our mind, we must know. We must comprehend the imminent danger and the urgently action that’s needed from each of us. We must realize that the problems will come home to roost and when they do, we will wish we had acted sooner. We can’t afford to continue down this road of willful ignorance any longer. Our moral obligation must not let us, because the future of humanity hangs in the balance.