Knowledge is Power?

So as a former educator I am very familiar with the slogan “knowledge is power.”

It’s certainly a popular notion. If you’re going to vote and be part of a democratic society then you should be informed and educated. However, there is less consensus recently on what people should be informed and educated about. But to me knowledge is a tricky thing. Important? Certainly. But I have met many knowledgeable people in my day, and a great many of them still lack wisdom. And without wisdom what is the point of knowledge? You just know a lot of isolated facts that have no larger meaning, that reveal nothing to you about the mystery of life.

Because to me there are two ways to walk the path of understanding. The first is with humility, where you start seeking knowledge and discover things that result in you gaining wisdom. The second is with pride, where you start seeking knowledge that results in you gaining a superiority complex from what you discovered.

I like to write because it helps me walk the path to understanding, and I hope you know which way I’m striving after, because if you don’t then not only have I failed you, I’ve failed myself.

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The Secret to Success

There really isn’t one.

But blogs who claim to have it get hundreds of thousands of views and shares. (which is just a touch more than I get, lol)

But fear not, I have a very different definition of success than most people and I’m very content with this blog and very flattered that even one person takes the time to read it, much less a few thousand- so thank you!

Because I think in our globally connected society we think just a little too big. You’re not a success unless you influence millions. You’re not wealthy unless you live like a Kardashian. Your political movement didn’t work unless it abolished everything you disagreed with by the next day and ended poverty to boot.

You may think I’m exaggerating, and maybe I was a little, but it was done to make a point.  The point that this train of thought breeds apathy and ingratitude. It hardens the heart to the world around us and the plight of others. It makes us think that unless we can do everything we shouldn’t do anything. And that’s just foolish because I can’t think of a better way to suck the joy out of living.

Instead, I would echo something closer to the theme of Schindler’s list, that “he who saves one man saves the world.”  Because while we’re so busy being big we forget to enjoy being small, and full of wonder like a child. We forget to smile at the stranger sitting next to us or be happy at the smallest act of kindness that someone does for us or that we do for someone else. We forget that sometimes life has a little bit of magic in it, and it sits in plain sight if we would only just remember to look for it.

And that’s why I really don’t care whether this blog gets a hundred views or a hundred thousand views in a day, because when I was little if the person next to me agreed to read one of my stories I would sit breathless with anticipation, not because I was looking to change the world, but because I was simply hoping that when they read it they would see the magic too.

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown

Today was a very interesting day at work because a woman came into my office and started preaching.

Unfortunately, it was not any religion that I found interesting. It was the religion of the new atheism, that secularism with a religious fervor, and believe me, this woman was on fire with the love of the world.

To give you proper context, she was discussing the previous evening’s Christmas party hosted by my office with a coworker of mine. She was so enthralled with the “good vibes” given off by the party and as part of her extremely self-important yet vague title (the corporate equivalent of a life coach) she was very passionately committed to the idea that people ought to give off good vibes and be given opportunities to work in places that give off good vibes. It was certainly positive support to the claim that in the absence of believing in absolute truth people instead opt for passionate commitment to whatever holds true for them. Which is why you just can’t judge, man.

All I can say to that attitude is girl please.

Because I’m not sure what party this woman went to last night, but the one I attended was not an inspiring show of universal love and brotherhood. Nor was the purpose of that party to relax and have fun together. It was Christmas themed networking, a show of solidarity in an office where most of us champwork remotely. It was quite the performance on a stage of glimmering (but tasteful) wealth, well-dressed bragging, and generous amounts of alcohol slipped into many a festive drink. It was essentially like a cocktail party before a wedding, except that there was a table with a delicious dinner spread. The company certainly outdid themselves by every worldly standard. It was a perfect fit for my boss and a perfect expression of what he envisions our company as representing. We’re good at what we do, we’re nice, we’re professional and yes there are probably good vibes all over the place.

Honestly I like my coworkers, I really do. They are good people and I am very blessed to be working with them. But everyone at that that party had themselves on their mind. It was that classic office networking experience
where people would say some jovial greeting and walk away half way through my scripted response to their greeting. Your surroundings may sparkle and make you feel important, but it’s shallow and superficial. Like a mirage in the desert that is appealing because it seems like it’s everything you want when in fact it is appealing because you are so thirsty. Thirsty for the real thing.

I know my inner Charlie Brown is coming out as I talk about how, amid a commercial Christmas, I can’t help but long for the true meaning of the season. But it was hard to hear these two grown women speaking, both so excited over an illusion. Because there is more to life than good vibes and networking and careers, life should be so much deeper.  Life should be about love, the type of love present at the Nativity in the humility, hope, charity, wonder, and joy shared by a family.

And being more “spiritual” than “religious” is almost a tragedy in my mind, a tragedy I saw unfold many times last night, because it detracts from the truth that God is love and subtly spreads the lie that it is possible to find the type of love and meaning your heart truly desires, with or without God as long as it “works for you.” It sounds well meaning and “open minded,” but that sort of talk is meant to keep you from finding what you seek by convincing you that you are fine where you are. It leaves you sitting in the mirage showing off how comfortable you’ve made yourself when the true oasis is right there waiting for you just beyond the edge of your comfort zone.

But since it is nearing Christmas I can’t help but retain my joy and my hope that love finds you this holiday season no matter who or where you are.

cb