Real Knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance
We could stand some real knowledge around here, in the world at large. There does not seem to be much of it these days. No one admits to having any ignorance in themselves; it is only something they see in others, which, perhaps, is the worst kind of ignorance. Ignorance willingly embraced with gusto can only be the result of stupidity or perfidy; there are no real alternatives. The stupid never know they embrace ignorance, for they cannot see it at all. The perfidious embrace ignorance to manipulate others for their own benefit. Those led by the former live in a state of permanent confusion. Those led by the latter are pawns, dupes, marks not respected by the perfidious who claim to speak on their behalf.
There is a lot of this going on right now. There may have always been a lot of this, but it seems more than plainly apparent in an election year, when the worst sort of perfidy and stupidity are put on prominent display, paraded around like circus monkeys, and admired by those whose sole desire seems to be the rush to see P.T. Barnum’s famous egress, declared in bold print on the signs posted everywhere. I’ve raced for a few egresses myself. I felt real foolish when the door locked with a loud “click” behind me. Having seen the egress, I wonder now what all the rush was about. Having been led by my own ignorance only to find myself in an undesirable place, I learned something, and was no longer ignorant about some things, at least those that cost me something. A bought lesson is not soon forgotten.
While Confucianism is counted among the world’s religions, it is more of a philosophy. Confucius taught his contemporaries how to live their lives in an admirable way, to put their best foot forward, as it were, and to accept those things they could not change as they figured out how to adapt themselves to a world that could be as hard as stone or as soft as water, the stone sometimes crushing or supporting, the water sometimes overwhelming or comforting, each having its place in the arena of good or bad.
There is so much we don’t know.
We are often tempted by those things we secretly desire, as it is our desire that gets out of hand and brings us to the point we do something stupid without actually being stupid, perfidious without being filled with perfidy. When we are no longer ignorant of the inner desires that can mislead us, we are much less apt to be led astray by them. Some might call this cynicism. Others might call this wisdom.
“Work from Home and Make $2,000 per Week” the vexing pop-up ads scream from my computer screen, much like the similar classified ads promised in the back of Good Housekeeping magazines, by merely stuffing envelopes. The one thing you can be certain of is that the folks who bombard us with those ads are making $2,000 per week by separating us from our own money, we hoping to get something for nothing, and they knowing the only money is that which is in our pockets, devise larcenous schemes obtain it from us, we who harbor some larceny oursleves, thinking that there is such a thing as honest quick and easy money.
“This way to the egress,” says Phineas T.
“Fat burning tablets produce miracles,” says the ad.
“This way to the egress,” says Phineas T.
“Earn Your Degree at Home, the Easy Way,” shouts the ad.
Yawning, now, Phineas T. mumbles, “This way to the egress.”
And folks, everywhere, rush to the egress, to see something that they know nothing about, and knowing nothing, soon learn that the reality of what they thought they knew in their know-nothingness was not at all what they envisioned. How is it, I wonder, that they were able to envision something in relation to the egress when they were completely ignorant of it?
I am ignorant of a lot of things. I am not even aware of the existence of some of them, which by extension means I cannot be aware of my ignorance. Some of those things might be dangerous. The most dangerous, however, are those things I am ignorant of while thinking I know something about them.
“Make a Fortune Trading Stock Options and Commodities Futures,” says the ad in Forbes Magazine. For what I know about Stock Options and Commodities trading, the ad may as well read, “Make a Fortune Buying Lottery Tickets.” While the occasional lucky powerball winner is shown with a smiling face, or someone beats all the odds and converts a thousand dollar commodities trade into a hundred thousand dollars, these are the exceptions, certainly not the rule, particularly since the rule is that the lottery winner had his winnings funded by the losers.
“Where would you like this corn unloaded, Mr. Sharp,” asked the lead truck driver of the armada of trucks now parked alongside the roadway leading to my house, after I ignorantly let a ruinous future expire forcing me to take actual delivery of the commodity I traded in, which was even more ruinous than selling the future at an extreme loss. Where does one put a thousand tons of corn? How does one pay for its storage? How much corn can you eat?
Knowing that I know nothing about commodities trading except for the possible ruination of the uninitiated, I think I’ll avoid it. Like many businesses, the brokers who trade in the business make money when you sell or when you buy, risking nothing themselves in the markets they created. That’s some real knowledge I have there, knowing that I know nothing. I can rely on that knowledge since knowing that I know nothing means it I won’t be dabbling in the business. The only corn I am likely to purchase are some roasting ears, a few cans of whole kernel, or perhaps a sack of shelled corn to feed the deer. I am not ignorant of the fact that the corn intended for the deer might wind up in the belly of some feral hogs, and most hogs are not ignorant of the risks they face in exposing themselves to get at the corn, though the soon-to-be dead ones are ignorant of that, thus removing themselves from the gene pool, leaving only the wary, becoming warier by the benefit of genetic programming that allows them to live and breed, spreading the wariness.
There’s so many things I don’t know. The extent of my ignorance knows no bounds.
I do know, however, that there is danger in free corn. So do most pigs.
©2016 Mississippi Chris Sharp