Friday, April 28, 2006


Or is it MIA? I'm not sure which term would be more appropriate in the context of me not being around to post blog entries recently. Probably neither. By using either term, I certainly wouldn't want to trivialize anything about the much vilified military and the young men and women who fight on our behalf. Whatever I have ever thought about war generally, I have often felt that soldiers are treated disrespectfully and unfairly by our ubiquitous know-nothings and know-it-alls.

Have you ever, by the way, found it curious that know-nothings and know-it-alls are often one-and-the-same?

The problem with both groups (and their members are legion,) is that they don't know (or won't admit) that they know nothing, or that the term 'know-it-all' is one of derision, not of respect or admiration.

I had a conversation with my son this morning, attempting to tidy up after some tense moments last evening when he felt, after being corrected about something, that his knowledge and opinions weren't appreciated. Actually, I am in awe of his knowledge. About many things, he knows much more than I did at twice his age. I also respect his opinions. But he, like the rest of us, can be wrong about things. I have been wrong many times in my life. Luckily, I have usually not broadcast my ignorance in advance, and with a notable exception or two have avoided subsequent embarrassment.

"I get it, Dad," my son said to me this morning, a tad sarcastically, "I don't know anything about anything."

He does actually, sort of, get it. None of us really do know anything about anything. If we did, members of our human race would have stopped butchering each other eons ago. The point his mother and I were trying to make to him is that there are several realities. One is the 'real' reality, and the others are perceptions, coloured by personal filters like the experience and expectations of the participants.

Sometimes, it is wise to admit that we don't have the answers to everything. Sometimes it is wise to keep our mouth shut. It is better to listen than to prattle on endlessly about things with which we have no experience. It is better to admit ignorance in advance than to prove it by trying to be an expert on everything. There are already too many political, media and Hollywood air-heads out there presenting us their skewed perceptions as reality.

My son knows a lot and I admire him for it. Like the rest of us, though, he doesn't know everything. When he admits that, I respect him for it. I think it would be refreshing if a politician or commentator or movie star would occasionally admit their ignorance and say, simply: "I don't know."

When pigs fly.

1 comment:

  1. As always, you have made me recall an incident from my ancient past as an officer in the RCAF. I had the unfortunate experience of attending a technical meeting on electronic ways of trapping submarines. At this meeting was a colleague whose greatest asset was his ability to keep his shoes shining like a mirror. We all suspected he was carrying shoe shining gear in his briefcase. This may seem a rather trivial matter to bring up, but I had pointed out to another specialist on anti-submarine warfare, that this guy was totally ignorant about the subject we were discussing. I predicted he would go into one of his escape modes, which was to reply, "That is a good question." Then he would take out his pipe and prepare it to produce a voluminous smoke screen, which soon had all of us disappearing into this generated fog. It got so bad, the chairman adjourned the meeting. The guy never did respond to the "good question." It was too bad. After all, he was an expert.