Knowledge: Burn Thy Ignorant Effigy
Suppose you are sitting in a spacious room with just one exit. The door is open just a crack and a snake enters from that door. It’s not a big snake and is rather dumb looking but a snake nonetheless.
The most common reaction would be that you would be standing on the same chair you were sitting on earlier. Now, there’s a knock on the door and a zoologist enters the room. He comforts you and educates you about the harmlessness of the snake. He tells you that that particular snake is not poisonous at all and has had its fangs removed. Without all that it’s just a big worm. Having fed with all this information you’ll be confident enough to climb down the chair and walk out of the room comfortably.
What happened in the above case is that as knowledge was gained, fear dissipated. I have discussed a lot about fear in previous chapters and a good way to deal with it is by gaining knowledge which will not only help you fight fear but also help you in correcting your past wrong beliefs. There was a time when it was considered to be true that Earth rested on the shoulder of the Titan Atlas. But as knowledge increased, past beliefs changed.
Attitude is shaped by six important components:
6. Past conditions in which one grows up.
Knowledge helps in correcting three of the above six factors, wrong beliefs, fears and biases. According to William Shakespeare, ‘Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.’ Shawn Corey Carter known by his stage name Jay Z, an American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur and one of the most financially successful hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in America ,with a declared net worth at nearly $520 million as of 2014, advises, ‘I'm hungry for knowledge. The whole thing is to learn every day, to get brighter and brighter. That's what this world is about. You look at someone like Gandhi, and he glowed. Martin Luther King glowed. Muhammad Ali glows. I think that's from being bright all the time, and trying to be brighter.’
Do you believe that knowledge is the key to almost every conceivable problem?
The flow of knowledge should never stop. Reading good books and conversing with intellectual people always have been and still are two of the best ways to enlighten oneself. The flow of knowledge should never stop. No one can be perfect and acknowledging one’s weakness is the best way to start to improve. Complacence should be vehemently opposed. As Richard Cecil once said, ‘The first step towards knowledge is to know that we are ignorant.’
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.