Do you think life would be easier if you were stupider? Or put it this way: If you could take a pill that’d make you uninterruptedly happy, do you think it would automatically make you dumber?

If my insurance carrier covered it, I’m not sure that I, at 61, wouldn’t sign up for that prescription. It’s not that I think I’m so smart, either: I still count on my fingers, I don’t know why airplanes stay in the air and, no matter how many times I write it, I doggedly believe the word “correspondence” ends on the word “dance.”

For most of my life, I thought you had to build tunnels by taking all the water out first. My husband and two stepsons thought I was kidding when we were going through the Lincoln Tunnel back in 1992 and I asked about how they did that. In unison, they guffawed, “Good one, Gina!” I didn’t understand their laughter, but if I’m being honest, I also don’t quite believe their explanation. All those tunnels are dug under the water? The idea makes less sense than airplanes.

Therefore, and as someone who’s been in education as a student or a teacher for approximately 2,926 years, I can vouch for the fact that a person can be ridiculously well-schooled and yet startlingly stupid. I also know you can be dazzlingly smart and have left school after the eighth grade.

So we’re not talking book learning here: We’re talking smart, as in being aware of what’s going on around you and able to process the surprising complexities of life. Smart allows you to distinguish strength from barbarism, courage from brutality and rudeness from honesty. It won’t let you mistake cunning for insight, information for erudition or pandering for respect.

Smart makes you want to comprehend the workings of something – volcanoes, the human body, a pride of lions – rather than merely worshiping it, mating with it or slaughtering it. It gives you perspective.

With perspective come choices, and with choices comes responsibility.

And that’s where the phrase “ignorance is bliss” comes into play; accepting responsibility isn’t usually the fun part. But it’s a side effect of being smart.

Consider the smartest main character in any story, from the “Odyssey” to “Pride and Prejudice,” from “The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes” to “The Simpsons” (I see Lisa as the main character in “The Simpsons”). It’s our heroes’ insight, discernment and sensitivity that sets them apart from their less bright friends and family members. It also makes them, in turn, less unadulteratedly happy. Because they perceive subtleties in situations to which others remain oblivious, they shoulder some of the burden of understanding and this weighs them down. D’oh.

So why not be oblivious? What’s wrong with spending the day watching videos of puppies, kittens and adorable Australian hedgehogs? Why not stream videos of a raccoon that reaches the top of the UBS Center in Minnesota, once you know it’s safe?

Playing the fool is one thing. It’s a release, a seizing of the moment and a cheering embrace of the trivial. But a determined celebration of stupidity and of folly is dangerous. It’s like playing hide-and-seek with your real self, the one who knows better.

We have to guard against cultivating and admiring stupidity for its own sake. Like every form of dissembling, being spuriously stupid – or applauding those who are – undermines our integrity. We can’t wall off what we know, and we can’t pretend not to see what we’ve already witnessed.

To reject knowledge or our own experience of loss and frustration is to reject empathy, sympathy, shared grief and conscience.

Whether it comes in a pill or a bottle, whether you stream it or smoke it, whether you insulate yourself in it or weaponize yourself with it, at some point you’re probably going to be smart enough to realize that playing stupid doesn’t work. It’s like playing dead: You hope to remain passive enough so that you’ll be entirely overlooked and out of the action.

Is that really how you want to go through life, trying to escape it by keeping your eyes closed and remaining rigid?

Finally, if ignorance is bliss, why do people keep taking continuing education classes on how to be happy?

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