It has been said that knowledge is power. No one has yet been shown to have said those exact words and, yet, they are as pervasive as the wind, as true as the sunrise. Isaac Asimov said “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” The Book of Proverbs, chapter four discusses the need of every individual to seek wisdom and understanding. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary gives one definition of knowledge as “the fact or condition of being aware of something”; one definition of wisdom as “knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life” and one definition of understanding as “the power to make experience intelligible by applying concepts and categories”. If we combine these concepts of knowledge, wisdom, understanding and power, it could be said that “Science becomes aware of potentially powerful facts faster than society can experience the ramifications of those discoveries and apply those experiences to manage them effectively.” Although science is only one area, the same is true of getting information to people in many different fields. Perhaps the circuit that circulates knowledge isn’t complete.
In our present environment, Pericles’ comment that “having knowledge but lacking the power to express it clearly is no better than never having any ideas at all” is even more important than ever. So how do we communicate our knowledge? We drown in information every day. Our electronic media delivers tons of it to our fingertips… almost all of it sadly lacking in substance and detail…snippets of headlines providing, in most cases, less than superficial understanding of events. Incomplete information delivered in brief snippets is begging to be manipulated or interpreted inappropriately resulting in unexpected consequences.
People are too busy these days to read? They don’t have the patience to read? I wonder if this is the residue of electronic media exposure. Are these the same people who can’t read or carry on a conversation without staring at their cell phones, tablets or computer screens…seeking knowledge of a type, perhaps, but still missing the point of communicating. There are those that would argue that the common knowledge available through electronic media meets Pericles’ imperative to communicate knowledge to others. However, it seems to me that could only be true if the quality of the ideas communicated were considered, and it’s doubtful, at least in my mind, that many of them would rise to meet Pericles’ standard of knowledge. Without a doubt such knowledge is powerful in the sense that it influences people quickly in the here and now…it spurs a response. But, it’s like a football team with a great first team and no depth at all…it fades immediately. There is just no substance.
So what’s left? In my humble opinion, reading and writing. Quality fiction and non-fiction books, newspapers, news magazines and other periodicals and references of substance will fill the need. It doesn’t matter if they are delivered on paper or through electronic media. They can provide enough substance…story, facts, detail…to meet the need for knowledge. Knowledge can be sought in headlines, wisdom in reading the text of the stories and understanding by mentally assimilating the story’s thoughts and ideas and applying them in some manner. Needless to say, this isn’t a ten word or less sound-bite project, but it would pay dividends in the future.
Clabe Polk is into a second career as a fiction author. He has taken more than thirty-seven years of professional managerial experience, scientific background, a lifetime of practical skills, his love of reading, research and writing and combined them into action stories about real people told in a tongue-in-cheek style all his own.
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