I know what I don’t know
Vail, CO, Colorado
Someone could write a book about what I don’t know.
In fact, I did write a book containing extended writings on subjects I was only vaguely familiar with. And while I might be more clueless than your average person, there is much in this world we all must take on faith or acknowledge our doubt; much of this is a matter of personality, politics and preference.
So if we can agree there’s much about our world that is unknown, it’s also undeniable that, through research and science, we know more now than we did, say, 50 years ago. Case in point: In my life time, cigarettes at one point were thought of as a healthy form of relaxation.
It’s very possible that, though many of the world’s mysteries could be solved in the years to come, many will not – perhaps not ever. I think that is a good thing. Just as a relationship can be strengthened with a little of the unknown (my wife will never understand my fascination with feather dusters), faith and speculation can enrich a person’s life. For me, believing in only what is verified would be boring.
But it’s important to delineate between knowing and believing. For instance, I believe in Karma. I believe that any compassion I manage to display now will help to make up for the rotten stuff I did when I was younger. I do not know this to be true, but it does make me feel better.
Here again it is a matter of knowing and believing – fact and opinion.
One of the beauties of the human condition is that you can have one without the other: I can believe without knowing. But I won’t presume to try to get others to share my faith, because it’s very possible that I’m full of it.
Because someone could write a book about what I don’t know.
For instance: Is there a divine entity? Bible: A book written by Godly men or God’s book? Does life begin at birth, conception, or when people begin to mind their own business? Global warming: man-caused or cow flatulence? Can bagpipes be out of tune? Homosexuality: nature, nurture or a compulsion to dress well? Why did Kamikaze pilots wear helmets? Evolution, creationism, or a little of both? And a related question: If God created man in his image, why design a butt requiring toilet paper?
So those are just a few things that I don’t know and I would contend no one can confirm conclusively one why or the other. Certainly we all have opinions on these matters; I know I do.
There are some things that we know, can be proved, and, at least in my opinion, are irrefutable.
If you were born in this country, you are lucky and blessed. There are no more “gifted” children now than there were 20 years ago – just more parents who think their child is gifted. War is inhumane, expensive and should not be a foreign policy but rather a last resort. If you see a beautiful young woman with an old guy, chances are that guy is rich. Assisting the needy is not only good policy but morally correct. All men all created equal … even New York Yankee fans. In a nation as wealthy as ours, health care should be available to all. Condoleezza Rice and Nancy Pelosi are role models for young girls; Paris Hilton is not. Except for the fact that your skin is dry and hangs off your body like a graduation gown, its better to be 50 than 20.
It is a pity that this nation can get mired arguing the emotional matters while ignoring the issues of practical policy. We wallow in the debate over evolution, creationism, separation of church and state, flag burning, public displays of the Ten Commandments, stem cell research which distracts us from real issues that that have real solutions.
If we can agree that
there is much that we will never agree on we can perhaps move on to the many issues where we find common ground. Think of the energy we could save not trying to convince each other that Adam and Eve ate dinosaur meat, or that if man evolved from the apes, monkeys would use toilet paper.
Not only might this stop our incessant bickering, consider what we might accomplish.
Who knows, perhaps health care could be attainable for all Americans, and I could find the time to write that second book about stuff I know absolutely nothing about.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.