Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse. – African Proverb
What does that mean?
This quote talks about curiosity, knowledge, and the lack of either. It is one thing to not know. That can be fixed with a little effort and a little curiosity. For those who are insatiably curious, this isn’t hard.
For those with internet connections or access to local experts, it is also fairly easy to find out. You ask questions, and then you know. But the quote discusses a third possibility, one which it states is even worse than not knowing something.
This is the lack of curiosity. True, you don’t have to know the details of the Otto cycle, and how it applies to the internal combustion engine, to drive a car. And many people really don’t care to know. But in other parts of your life, it could be a bit more trouble.
Why is caring important?
That is another way to describe why people who don’t wish to know about something. They don’t care. While it’s one thing to not care exactly how a car engine works, it’s another if you don’t care how your government works or how your food is grown..
If you’re stranded at the side of the road, knowing might help, but a tow truck can be summoned to provide assistance. If you don’t know how your government works, you won’t know what your recourse is if you don’t like what they are doing. Different countries have different rules, but knowing what you can and cannot do, that is a good thing.
Not caring to know about other aspects of daily life can lead to problems as well. There have been numerous scandals in recent years about ‘organic’ food, and what is required to use that label. Many people have became sick, and it will continue to happen until people start to wish to know, and do their research.
Where can I apply this in my life?
While there are some things I really don’t want to do because it is (to me, at least) very gross, or otherwise distasteful, I am curious (desirous of, or wishing for, knowledge) about almost everything. Knowing what some of the wires under the hood are there for has come in handy a few times.
But what about the rest of our lives. It isn’t all cars, right? What about our friends, our family, or the people at work or in our social groups? It’s one thing to be nosy, but quite another to wish not to know. Are any of them in any kind of trouble, or in need of any kind of help?
Usually there are signs that others need help. Perhaps there are little lies or other things that strike you as odd or out of character. Perhaps they are trying to give you hints, being too embarrassed or scared to ask you for help. Other times, they’re just sloppy.
But if you don’t ask, if you don’t follow up, not only don’t you know, you don’t wish to know. To me, and to the quote, that is far worse than not knowing at all. Because sometimes, we miss the clues. But in hindsight, they were all there, plain as day.
Recently, an acquaintance of some years got into a bit of trouble. Somehow, I missed all the signs. In hindsight, yes, the clues were there. I doubt I would have been able to be of much assistance. However, it hurts to know that I might have been able to do something, but did not.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to know, there just wasn’t enough evidence to point to something being wrong. I plan to learn from the experience and pay a little more attention to the details and inconsistencies. There is no guarantee that I’ll do any better next time, but I will certainly try.
What about you? Do you know anyone who might be turning a blind eye to a problem? Do you know anyone who is trying not to notice, or trying not to know what is going on with someone close to them? That rarely ends well, and, far too often, ends up on the evening news.
It’s the classic line, isn’t it? When someone goes crazy, their friends and family always say that they were such a nice person, or that they must have fallen in with the ‘wrong crowd,’ right? But what are the odds that there were clues, but those clues were ignored?
What can you do to help yourself or others face what is going on? How can you help them care? How can you help them to want to know? That’s something I am struggling with myself. I don’t have an answer, but welcome any thoughts or ideas you might have.
From: Twitter, @quotedojo
confirmed at : http://www.searchquotes.com/quotation/Not_to_know_is_bad
Photo by starbooze