Painful Knowledge

We often hear that knowledge is power, but do you ever miss the time before you knew something? For example, on days where I’m debating post options, I sometimes wish I didn’t know about blogs. It would mean one less thing to worry about in a day. However, it would also mean forgoing the pleasure of a well-written post and the potential conversation created.

Chasing after knowledge is a balancing act because it comes with an equal opportunity for positive or negative consequences. I remember as a young child, about six or so, that I overheard my mom on the phone discussing the divorce of a family friend. I didn’t really understand what divorce meant, but I knew that it was something adult, almost taboo.

While playing with this friend’s daughter, she made me mad, claiming she knew something I didn’t. I decided to trump her and proclaimed her parents were getting divorced. As you can imagine, the chain of events that followed was less than pleasant. This early lesson in the power of knowledge was painful for everyone involved and has stayed with me my entire life.

I wish I’d never learned about the divorce, but here’s the reality. The knowledge in and of itself isn’t bad, but how I chose to use the information was, and for me, that’s the lesson. How do you use your knowledge?


4 Responses to “Painful Knowledge”

  1. April 8, 2008 at 9:21 am

    Excellent food for thought. Knowledge as a weapon. Yes, the same information or knowledge can be used in totally different ways.

    That’s one of the most difficult tasks for journalists, bloggers and news media directors. HOW the news or information is presented is just as critical as WHAT is presented. What we don’t reveal is also extremely important, sort of like the silence between musical notes in a song. Sometimes the right decisions are made, sometimes not. It’s always a guessing game where we must follow our own unique code of ethics, moral fiber and intuition.

    On a personal level, I watch my kids in awe and wonder and enjoy their naivity and innocence. I catch myself longing for my yute, er youth. How true that ignorance is bliss!!! I do wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then?

    Still, the more we know, the more we grow. However, with such enlightenment comes vast amounts of darkness. Man, I sure miss those endless sunny summer days.

  2. 2 Britt
    April 8, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    @Paisano: I think that’s why people are so suspicious of news organizations that claim no bias or automatic neutrality. Every time I hear Fox News sign off with, “we report, you decide,” I’m surprised that more people don’t push back against this idea that all they’re doing is reporting. This reality applies to any news agency or other entity involved in information sharing. I’d be more willing to listen to the reporter who acknowledges what drives his or her knowledge sharing.

  3. April 9, 2008 at 9:13 am

    I often wish I knew far less than I do.

    With knowledge comes power and with power comes responsibility. What a profound lesson to learn at such an early age.

    It reminds me of the biblical story of Adam & Eve and how they both partook of knowledge that they were not ready for. For the one action, there was dire consequences that spanned generations.

    On a practical level, as a father and a manager, I think it’s vital to assess, refine and own what you know before passing it on.

  4. 4 Britt
    April 9, 2008 at 9:21 am

    @Caleb: In your last sentence, there’s something key: taking ownership. I think it’s why I’m so easily frustrated by the people who claim they are only sharing facts. Often, such individuals want all the benefits of the knowledge without any of the associated responsibility. It’s the adult version of being a tattle tale in some respects.

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April 2008
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