Knowledge and ignorance

Pit is perhaps a subject on which much has been written; after jotting down some thoughts I wanted to stop writing this piece, but just in time I luckily remembered Dostoevsky’s words, “There is no subject so cold that it cannot be said something new “(Diary of a writer). So here it is – maybe not entirely new, but in newer words to stay inspiring. We all need motivation. Knowledge, or not, the recognition of being ignorant is the biggest motivator.

“Ignorance is the curse of God, knowledge the wing with which we fly to the sky” (Shakespear in Henry-VI). They say ignorance and curiosity are two very soft pillows; never sleep on it. The first step towards knowledge is to be curious about being ignorant. In fact, the first essay most of us wrote in Second Standard was on the proverb “Knowledge is power.” Indeed, knowledge gives its owner a unique respect within society.

Thomas Gray had said: “When ignorance is happiness / it is folly to be wise”. Ignorance can be all around, in every factor and facet of life or alternatively it can relate to a few areas and subjects. We can all have a lack of understanding of knowledge in all its fullness and manifestations. The common curse of mankind is insanity and ignorance. The belly of monsters is ignorance. Ignorance blocks our knowledge and therefore our wisdom. Robert Browing called ignorance a “sin”.

Many of us love our ignorance, with great admiration to the extent that we find ourselves hanging out in our mouths. Speech and expression remove all doubts of being ignorant. Boast, if you have to; boast of not knowing, of not pretending to know wrongly. “The fool thinks that he is wise, but the wise one knows that he is a fool”.

Knowledge is a crucial quotient for development. We have seen the creation of the knowledge economy; it is simply an increase in knowledge about the various sectors of activity which will most likely be carriers of economic growth. How is knowledge acquired after the academic years? The answer is simple. The books read, the company and the association taken, as well as targeted ambitions give the best economic years. There is a specialized body of knowledge and a generalized menu of knowledge. Whether general knowledge is necessary or specific knowledge is to be acquired will depend on the position held. A cardiac surgeon will have a more in-depth knowledge of cardiac function compared to an ENT whose job is to process what can be seen from the outside; while heart surgery remains obscure to the eye.

It is the leader’s job to find the potential within an organization of people who are both knowledgeable and therefore competent. Placing square pegs in round holes does not create a viable team. The recent, rapidly occurring changes in Islamabad are an indication that knowledge or skills are compromised in the first instance of their appointment as special advisers. Even King Arthur’s knights at his round table had unique knowledge and talents; and nowhere in history is it suggested that the nine jewels of Akbar, the Mughal ruler, were bootlickers! They were known for their knowledge and skills. Each distinctly renowned in their chosen fields of study, ranging from finance to poetry to music!

The lack of knowledge or skill of a political leader is covered by talented bureaucrats or even a cousin! But, if the bureaucrats came to positions through nepotism, then only divine intervention can help. Leaders must acquire knowledge as a major goal. Knowledge must first be hunted and then tamed, for effective use, while moving forward. Knowledge allows us to navigate through the turbulent waves that keep rising, as part of life and life.

Pride and ignorance make great friends. They thrive on the shortcomings of the other, pride or arrogance obscures the light of knowledge. When Socrates was told he was a wise man, he expressed surprise and remained ignorant of this fact – and that made him the most intellectually humble person. Knowledge has no established relationship with wealth or wealth. Poverty is her best friend. Knowledge is for the common good and should not be sold in the market, lest it eventually become a victim of the market forces of demand and supply.

Who is responsible for creating a learning environment? Providing skilled workers benefits whom? Obviously, the performance and productivity of the organization is increasing, with the emphasis on learning and development, managers must be careful to eliminate the disabilities of their teammates. These ill-advised managers who surround themselves with ignorant colleagues fundamentally ensure disaster in the future. Incompetence will quickly find its acceptance beyond a particular group.

Much knowledge has the potential to drive men crazy and men seek to boast. If knowledge and lawlessness flourish in the womb of an evil man, it is a sword in the hands of a fool. The wasteland has wild flowers and flowering shrubs, but an uncultivated spirit is fertile ground for negative bushes to grow and envelop the pattern of thought and action.

Knowledge is unfettered and does not fear any border, whether real or imaginary. Instead of chasing various desires, thirst and the pursuit of knowledge should remain a predominantly daily activity. Doubt is the key to knowledge. It is said that ignorance, followed by intellect and wisdom, will usher in an environment conducive to organizational performance. Lord Chesterfield in Letters to a son says: “Knowledge is a comfortable and necessary retreat and shelter for us at an advanced stage; and if we do not plant it young, it will not give us shade as we age ”. Knowledge is lifelong insurance coverage against being diverted into a career.

There is a Nigerian saying or proverb that I learned when I spent time there: “Not knowing is bad; not wanting to know is worse ”.

For a leader / manager, it is his responsibility to create a learning and development environment. Knowledge builds character.


The writer is a senior banker and freelance columnist

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