Knowledge is power(less)

It was both frightening and interesting to watch a programme on children with significant behavioural problems the other night. Frightening to see that, despite what most people (read: I) imagine raising a child to be like, you can do your absolute best with every good intention, and still face huge obstacles that are completely beyond your control! But it was also interesting, because of the people the programme used to help the families involved.

Peadiatricians and other medical professionals were brought in to assess the child, with a hope that a behavioural, psychological or physiological diagnosis could be made. When being told the results, the parents were obviously quite affected. One mother wept with relief at hearing, after many years of confusion, that her daughter had mild autism. As the experts shared their collective wisdom, it was clear to see the incredible difference it made.

All this was quite inspiring, it made me want to do the same; to be an expert in a particular field so that I could help people like that. And it got me thinking: what if the doctors had not shared their knowledge? What if, instead of helping others, they kept it to themselves? You could be the world’s leading authority in the treatment of cancer, but if you told no-one what you knew, what good would that be?

The accumulation of qualifications was never meant to be an end in itself, I think. Gaining knowledge is not in itself a good thing. It can be done with selfish motives. We read about something like this in the book of Genesis, where mankind thinks a lot of him/herself, and builds a towering skyscraper in Babel to prove it. But knowledge can certainly be beneficial and a blessing to others. In the Gospels, Judas’ head for figures (before things went wrong) was obviously helpful for Jesus and the other disciples in managing their finances.

For myself, I want all that I learn to be of use. I want the books that I read to inspire me to change. I want the courses I do to be good for me and the people around me. I want the experiences I go through to turn into wisdom for my friends. I don’t just want a head full of knowledge, I also want a heart that burns with more passion, and hands that more skilfully show love to others. Surely that is when knowledge is powerful.

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