Knowledge-We Have Just Enough To Be Dangerous

It has been said that “The tools we shape in time shape us.” Mankind has been pursuing knowledge to shape new tools with no connection to wisdom for a long time and those tools are starting to come back and bite us in the posterior. We have learned just enough to be dangerous. Sure, there is the obvious upside to having more knowledge, but without wisdom, knowledge can lead to serious problems. The cure could be worse than the disease! Think for a moment how the unbridled pursuit of knowledge has escalated some of the problems that have plagued man since the dawn of time. War, racism, the gap between the rich and the poor, and the rape of natural resources and habitats, are just a few examples. I don’t think that people are greedier or are more wicked now than they used to be. But I do think that the pursuit of knowledge has given us better sticks (tools) to beat each other over the head with.

Our increase in knowledge has facilitated the development of technology and increased our power to act. We would like to believe that this power will always be used to benefit mankind, to cure disease, feed people, and in enhance the quality of our lives. That all sounds nice, but what about the flip side, how can our increased knowledge, technology, and “power to act” harm us?

Before the advent of our modern age of knowledge and technology, a lack of wisdom to go along with increased knowledge didn’t matter that much; we were generally isolated people in a big world, we lacked the means to do too much damage to ourselves, let alone our communities, country , or the planet. But now, in possession of unprecedented technological powers bestowed on us by increased knowledge (accompanied by a lack of wisdom, stemming from the degradation of our character and morality), our tools can inflict far more damage than they used too.

Here is a great example. When I was a kid, that crazy old coot down the road really couldn’t do much damage. Mom would tell us to stay away from him and as long as we kept our distance we were safe. Nowadays, that crazy old coot can reach out and engage the world via the internet, send mass emails, learn far too much about my family, and he might even be able to penetrate the safety of my home and firewall via a modem. His power to act out his “craziness” has been multiplied a thousand fold, and without wisdom, or character, or morality to control him, he can do a lot of damage.

Our increase in knowledge must be accompanied with a proportionate increase in our character and morality so that we use the increased “power to act” for good and not evil. If we can’t handle, or don’t know how to increase our character to accompany that power, then we need to limit the attainment of knowledge (use of technology) until our character is mature enough to handle the power of the technology.

Sounds funny and backwards doesn’t it……limiting the pursuit of knowledge and the use of technology? Well, let me tell you, it doesn’t sound so funny to any parent of a 13 year old boy or girl who just got a new cell phone and has racked up a $400 cell bill, or is texting 3000 texts a month, or has made some damaging comments on Facebook, or discovers that their new social network friend is a 58 year old man.