“Knowledge is power,” or so they say. It’s an adage that is taught to us in our youth and repeated through our lives well into adulthood, but is it something that is actually meant for us to live by? Does our society value knowledge in the way that the phrase seems to suggest?
Like many of the other platitudes that are taught to us throughout our lives, there seems to be an intrinsic nature of “Do as I say and not as I do.” There’s a caveat and a hidden meaning behind such an ideal, a glaring disclaimer that appears to follow it:
- Seek out knowledge (so long as it earns you money).
- Seek out knowledge (so long as it doesn’t interfere with your work).
- Seek out knowledge (but only if it has a use beyond mental exercise).
To teach our youth, our burgeoning society, that there is no intrinsic value in knowledge except for as a means to an end. To seek knowledge not to enrich your mind, to expand your worldview, or to understand and grow compassion for others, but simply to produce more. That, in my opinion, is one of the greatest sins that has been conditioned into us in our modern age.
Knowledge itself is not valued as power by its own merits, but as a way to acquire power, be it politically or financially. Why, with all of the developments in human progress and the ability to share ideas with one another instantaneously, have we decided to view things in purely an economic lens? To view the world in such an incessantly monochromatic way in which the only thing that matters is whether something has utility or not?
There is more to life than producing and consuming. There is a world out there for us to cherish and explore, other humans to revel in our miraculous existence with, and knowledge for us to reach out and take hold of freely. Imagine if we could all understand the universal experience of our fellow man because we sought to learn not for profit, not for utility, but simply to understand what it means to be human. To seek out truths of the world not because we have the ability to subjugate and make money off of them, but to ground ourselves and appreciate the gift of existence that has been granted to us. That is an existence that I believe would help to bring us meaning, in a modern age completely divorced from any concept of it.
There is an intrinsic value that knowledge has that is not related to economics, profits, or utility. It is a value that helps us to be human. To be in touch with an innate desire that we all possess, which is to understand the things that we do not yet understand.
To finish off with another adage: You are a human being, not a human doing.