Knowledge is power. We’re taught these words at a very young age. If we’re not taught it explicitly, then it’s more that implied. We have become so ingrained with this idea that we devote our lives to always learning more. Honestly, I don’t take specific issue with this as knowledge is a good thing. However, when the hardest sentence for me to utter (as it’s never said proudly) is “I don’t know,” then I think this hints at a problem. When not knowing something is viewed as a curse or a malady, we limit ourselves and stunt our growth in every way (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually).
We’re human. It is physically impossible to know everything there is to know because our brains cannot either store or recall all that data. It’s just how we were made and I think it serves to save us from ourselves. We aren’t mobile supercomputers. We are flesh and blood that in one way or another have to be taught everything we know. Now, pursuing knowledge all one’s life is fine, but keep in mind that’s still a process that, as stated, takes an entire lifetime.
Embracing ignorance leads to wisdom. When Socrates asked the question “What is wisdom?” the conclusion at which he arrived was there were three kinds. The base was craftsman wisdom such as carpentry, metallurgy, etc. The higher was human wisdom and this was understanding what one doesn’t know. The highest wisdom was the knowledge of heaven. Socrates seemed to think of these as a spectrum and so it was crucial for one to pass from the basic form of wisdom to human wisdom before they could achieve wisdom beyond that. In other words, Socrates wrote this post several hundreds of years ago and I’m here to summarize.
There’s no defeat. Not knowing and its recognition is as Socrates asserted not shameful. In fact, that in and of itself is a form of wisdom. Rather than defeat, it should be a victory as we shrug off the weight of having to perform in this area. Our worth does not come from our IQ or our trivia knowledge. We are not somehow less of a person. In fact, I’d say admitting we don’t know makes us the opposite.
It is a jumping off point. “I don’t know” gives us the opportunity to figure it out, however. It gives us a place to begin an adventure in pursuit of the desired answer. Those words can be the launching point of our story, thrusting us into the heart of the action.
“I don’t know,” are among the hardest words to say, but only because they’re so misunderstood. That sentence carries with it such a heavy context of shame and worthlessness that we avoid them at all cost. We feel less valuable and even less of a human at times, but only because we don’t rightly understand God’s view of wisdom. As a Christian, we are called to always have an answer, but “I don’t know” is one. Instead of shame, those words should be met with excitement and joy. We have identified an opportunity to grow and to understand ourselves, the world around us and even God in a clearer way. If this is true, then how can there be shame here? So, let’s rejoice at the opportunity to increase, as maybe knowledge really is power.