Curiosity and Philately

There is probably no activity more of an antidote to ignorance than philately. Ignorance is more than stupidity or incuriousness. It is deliberately lacking respect for learning and understanding as being valuable activities in a complex world.  With every hour with his stamps and covers, a philatelist is cultivating curiosity. This comes to mind when working with a specialized collection of Russian and Ukrainian local issues. Not the Zemstovs, though they are one of the more fascinating philatelic fields, but the locals that were created in the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1992. Many of the nation states that Russia had incorporated in the Soviet Union broke apart and became separate countries. Some tried to break away and were unable to. Other just saw the political turmoil as an opportunity to issue a few stamps and make a bit of money. Now an ignorant person might look at this collection (and it was in fifteen volumes comprising thousands of different stamps and covers) and say  “oh some more stamps from Uzbeki-beki-bekistan”.  But a philatelist would take this as a wonderful opportunity to research the national aspirations and cultural history of the scores of ethnic groups that had their lives subsumed to Russian imperialism. It is times like this that I am glad I am involved in a hobby that is intellectually expansive. And always keep in mind how dangerous ignorance is.

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