When did knowledge become a four-letter word?

26 07 2016


I remember first being concerned last September when a Presidential candidate, speaking to the “Values Voter Summit” in Washington, DC, boldly, and with way too much pride and arrogance declared, “We will never have smart people on our side!”

I was stunned when I heard it.  “Is that a badge of honor?” I wondered.  If anything, I would think it would be rather disconcerting, especially for someone interested in being the President of the United States of America.   Don’t we WANT smart people to be on our side . . . with us, behind us, supporting us?

Since that time, again and again, many in the media and entertainment industry, politicians and their handlers, and even leaders of the church and other religious institutions, have continued talking about knowledge and education as if they were four letters words – as if being ‘smart’ was something to be shunned, or worse yet, feared.  The ‘educated elite’ as they (we?) are called, are viewed with suspicion, and with an agenda that for some odd reason is not in the best interest of the average American.

Scientific theories, whether on global warming or evolution, are called into question, as if those who have given their lives to study of things we will never fully understand are out to get us, or lead us astray.  Instead, people are quick to embrace those with the loudest voices, those who say what we want to hear, and those who are quick to offer simple answers to life’s most complex questions.

In many circles today, people are no longer looking for wise and informed women and men to lead our country.   People don’t appear to want knowledgeable and astute visionaries setting the course of American’s future, or negotiating with other nations of world in determining the course of our history!   Instead, people are crying out for something else.  You’ve heard it, I’m sure.

“We want people like us running our government!”

“I want someone like me making decisions about my future!”

But sadly, too often, ‘like us’ and ‘like me’ mean little more than uniformed and unaware; and these people, the ‘outsiders’ as they are often called, are frightening!  They have the arrogant audacity to believe that as outsiders, they are the only ones who can solve the problems facing our world; for they are not part of the current ‘system,’ and thus their perspective is the only one we dare trust!

Unfortunately, their ‘perspective’ has been birthed in nothing more than ignorance . . . pure and simple!  And people love it!  They quote Ronald Reagan, repeating his criticism of that ‘intellectual elite in a far distant capital,’ as if the uttering of this ridiculous mantra will somehow justify a person’s admiration of the uninformed or veneration of the ignorant.

Nineteenth century British philosopher Bertrand Russell one said “most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.”  He believed that one of the problems with the world is that “fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves” and that people, are too quick to follow them.

Knowledge is essential for healthy living.  The future of any democracy is dependent upon an educated populace; and wisdom is our world’s only hope.  So let’s stop dumbing down our society by exalting the ignorant.  Let’s stop lifting up those who don’t know how much they don’t know, and instead pay attention to those who have given their lives to the discipline of growing, by learning.  Let’s stop honoring those who regard their being ill-informed as a badge of honor, and push one another toward the transformation that comes with the renewing of our minds.

Knowledge is NOT a four letter word.  So let’s stop living, and voting, as though it is!



2 responses

26 07 2016

Thomas Jefferson said it over 200 yrs. ago: “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

26 07 2016

Well said Bob!

Sent from my iPad


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