Recently, I wrote about Change vs. Knowledge, and I have received some push-back on this topic and wanted to explain and expound a little to assure and address some concerns. The basic premise remains, in Christopher Paolini’s book “Inheritance: or the Vault of Souls,” the main character Eragon answers a question about change, saying, “Change itself is neither good nor bad, but knowledge is always useful.”
In basing the premise on this quote, I am not excluding anything in the learning process. Education does come in many forms, including academic, informal, experience, and even through epiphanies where knowledge comes from sources greater than those we can understand with our limited senses and understanding. I fully accept that the great warrior Joan of Arc received heavenly manifestations and was guided in her battles by these manifestations. Hence, I acknowledge that people continue to be influenced in like manner and accept this as a form of education.
Along the same vein, desire remains crucial to seeking knowledge and acquiring knowledge through the long struggle as a motivating force. Thus, desire remains a tool of motivation in empowering change. Provided the desire is not abused into appetite suppression, which leads to excess, abuse, and chaos. For example, during the initial phases of the Spanish Inquisition, the desire was the unification of the population. The Spanish Inquisition soon turned ugly and began persecuting Jews because the people leading the inquisition desired the Jews to either convert or leave Spain. Thus, the conclusion that desire can quickly turn into appetite suppression can cause chaos, destruction, and severe abuses.
Let us be perfectly clear; education remains a vital proponent in boosting change in a population. Teach a population to read, write, and perform mathematics, and you will significantly change a population within a generation. Consider the post-Civil War era in America; the children of slaves went to school, learned reading, writing, and arithmetic, and then began to spread out as influential people. The same occurred with the American Indian tribes, and this pattern repeats throughout all of history and never wavers. Thus, we can safely conclude that formal education boosts changes in society, cultures, and people who then create change in their environments and communities.
What is wisdom?
Wisdom is another term that everyone knows but has various components that aid in fully detailing the term. Wisdom captures the quality of experience, education (formal and informal) as knowledge, and couple’s good judgment, or the ability to make logical and sound decisions. Wisdom also encapsulates the appropriateness of actions and decisions where experience, education (formal and informal) as knowledge, are applied to a situation. Wisdom is also the body of experience, education (formal and informal) as knowledge in society. Unfortunately, wisdom has been plasticized, and emotions and emotionally powered logic have been installed as erroneous variables creating confusion and aiding in language’s tyranny to exert undue pressure on people. When Speaker Pelosi (D) can be called wise, the tyranny of plastic words becomes evident!
Choice vs. Perception
Remember, the premise “Change itself is neither good nor bad, but knowledge is always useful.” We choose whether we will allow change to be good or bad; we decide whether or not knowledge will be helpful or not. The choice is based upon how we choose to perceive the world around us. For example, I grew up in a house where smoking was considered tough, manly, and cool. I smoked in high school but quit in the US Army during Basic Training; let me tell you, that’s tough! But the perception of smoking, even with all the knowledge of the harm smoking can do, I still have to fight my perception of smoking’s image as I continue to be a quitter.
Is the relationship clear; as a kid, the perception was powerful that smoking is a good thing; as an adult, I must fight that perception because I choose not to be a smoker. Even though for 10-years after quitting, I could walk through second-hand smoke, and my pulse would race, my brain would demand a cigarette, and I would have to choose to remember why I quit smoking consciously. While the choice has become easier to keep in the now 20+ years after quitting, the power of the perception that smoking is cool remains as bright as ever.
The choice and perception variable remain a potent force in everything we, as humans, choose to do, see, become, and what we teach to others. Worse, the choice and perception variable is evident in behaviors, cultures, social groups, and political choices. Consider how many times Senator McCain (R), Senator Obama (D), Senator Robert Byrd (D), Speakers Schumer (D) and McConnell (R), etc., backpedaled, back dealt, changed positions, and still was able to convince citizens to vote for them. Speakers Paul Ryan (R) and Nancy Pelosi (D) have had the exact same problem their entire time in the US House of Representatives. Look at any politician who has been around for longer than three terms, and you will see choice and perception as significant variables in why they continue to win elections.
Hence, when we take this article’s premise, “Change itself is neither good nor bad, but knowledge is always useful,” we must factor in the choices and perceptions of those around us as a collective society. When we understand choice and perception, we more thoroughly understand behaviors, trends in actions, and we grasp at the power and danger of the premise that “Change itself is neither good nor bad, but knowledge is always useful.”
What we choose is not simply contingent upon what we know but also our perception and our valuation of past decisions on this topic. Consider the quandary Robert Solomon has experienced by persisting that emotions are a choice, a judgment, and a socially influenced action consciously made. The entire psychological world threw back their heads and howled, fighting, screaming, and becoming illogical, and yet emotions are as much a conscious choice as the clothes we wear each day, our hairstyle, and the foods we choose to eat.
As we choose a “Liberty FIRST Culture,” we must understand the why, the perception choice variables, and embrace the premise that, “Change itself is neither good nor bad, but knowledge is always useful.” Doing so will require we first look at our world views, knowledge, perceptions, choices and decide if these are bringing us closer, or taking us further away from, a society where the US Constitution lives as the paramount “Rule of Law.” Are we actively choosing to draw ourselves closer to freedom through our Republic, or are we part of the problem? Individual choice will drive change, provided we are conscious of our choices, educating ourselves, and actively working towards improving society. As the fundamental building block of the American Republic, the society that matters most is inside our own homes; build that society!
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.