Knowledge and ignorance
I first heard the phrase “Knowledge is Power” when I was in my early 20’s. The phrase dates back to Sir Frances Bacon when he first published the maxim in his book “Meditations Sacrae and Human Philosophy” in 1597. Given how closely guarded knowledge was at that time and the fusion of Church and State it was no doubt true. It is now more commonly agreed that
“Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied”.
There is so much to know and you could literally dedicate several life times to learning. I guess that is why those of Jewish religion, who are often referred to as “the people of the book”, revere learning as much as they do. For them, time has a fundamental purpose and that is study for it’s own sake. Which is all very noble as there are certainly less fruitful ways to spend your time.
Knowing isn’t enough
Here is the way I like to think of it. Knowing makes absolutely NO difference. It’s not that I don’t value knowledge. I do. It’s a value which is demonstrated in a love of books and in particular non-fiction and documentaries. There is also truth in the more I know about a subject the better prepared I am to use it to my benefit and the benefit of others. Paradoxically, the more I know the more I realise I haven’t got a clue. In any subject we can only hope to scratch the surface. That is unless of course we are willing to invest the time it takes to achieve mastery and even then you’d be hoping!
I know better and so do you
This morning I found myself wanting to react to something my partner said to me. I found myself wanting to go down the proverbial rabbit hole which leads to blame, make wrong and all things unpleasant. Not the least of which leaves me basting in my own juices; resentment I know it well. Now, I may not have gone there because “I know better” and that means precious little in the moment when it takes ALL of my energy NOT to react and now to fire back with one hundred and one justifications and reason why I am right about X, Y and Z! No I did not do that. I wanted to. Hell, I still want to. Instead I began a tug-o-war with myself.
It’s all about willingness
Here is what is interesting for me. I know better. I really do and I get that there is something for me to “give-up” and let go off. Live and let live and move on. But have I been willing to? In a word NO. Instead I find myself in a kind of no-mans land playing an intellectual game of check mate with myself which is exhausting. You could say I am being stubborn and you would be right. I can salvage something out of this however, It has highlighted to me the role of willingness in applying what I know. The price I pay for my lack of willingness? It’s the usual suspects: Love, affinity, connection. Energy and vitality as well.
So what is the cure? Get willing and apply what I know, otherwise knowing makes no difference and the day will be wasted. A day that I cannot get back.
I think I’ll go and buy some jelly-beans!