Midnight Sunday and I got up with a terrible storm in my stomach and realized that I was a victim of food poisoning. Was it the fish we ate on Sunday afternoon? I can’t think of anything else, but my stomach and body sure knew that it was bad. But I do not know if was the fish.
I do not know
Which brings me to the whole problem some of us have with saying ‘I do not know.’ When I was teaching in college, and a student asked me the meaning or usage of a word, I would say ‘I do not know. Let’s look up the dictionary.’ That way, I learnt something new, they got to practice using a dictionary and learn something new as well.
Of late, I’ve been seeing people wasting time pretending they’re doing something instead of reaching out and saying: ‘I do not know’. With such a load of information around, it’s perfectly legitimate to say that. Should be simple, no?
Obviously not. We’ve got swollen heads now it seems and it’s okay to bluff and make things up as we go along. What’s wrong with saying ‘I don’t know’?
As always, when I think about something, I come across similar ideas in my reading, so I’d like to share what I’ve read here.
(As for the delay in getting this post out, don’t you know why? It was the fish, remember? 😉 )
It’s okay to know know
The Master once exposed his disciples by means of the following advice. He gave each of them a sheet of paper and asked them to write down the length of the hall they were in.
Almost everyone gave flat figures fifty feet. Two or three added the word ‘approximately’.
Said the Master, “No one has given the right answer.”
“What is the right answer?” they asked.
“The right answer is ‘I do not know’, said the Master.
From ‘One Minute Nonsense’ by Father Anthony De Mello
“We cherish not only answering every question, but also being quick-witted. The answer has to be produced in the shortest amount of time with the snappiest of declarative performances. That kind of quick response is taken as a measure of supreme intelligence.
I’d love to see us become a community where our knowing and not-knowing, as well as our partial knowing, is not handed down vertically from the (all too often) one man on top, but is produced in a communal fashion.”
– Omid Safi
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