The Sucker Punch of Sharing by Hamid Rafizadeh
Somewhere in Chapter 1
On the surface, no one wants “deeper understanding.”
They all want understanding at the level of what they already know.
The human is an aggregation of knowledge pieces. The body itself is one such aggregation. The arms move, the heart beats, the lungs breathe, and the eyes see because the body’s aggregated pieces of knowledge are accessed and used as needed. Then there are pieces of knowledge the body accumulates in its interactions with other bodies and the earth. Some such pieces get stored in the brain, others in books and computers.
There is a difference between the knowledge stored and the knowledge produced out of the stored. I may have stored the knowledge of many words and can access them as I wish, but there always remains the possibility of coming across a word not stored in my knowledge base. If the new word is in the language I already speak, all I need is the additional work of visiting a dictionary to find out what it means and how it is used. If in a language I do not know, then the burden of knowledge seeking amplifies. Now, to understand what the new word means, I have to learn a new language, find someone that speaks it, or use a translation software.
Building a new piece of knowledge resembles building a new piece of anything. It is hard work. To do it, takes time and resources. It is easy to pick up a book and read but quite difficult to write a manuscript and publish it as a book; easy to buy a car and drive it, but quite difficult to make a car.
Why am I telling you all this?
The “ease” of processing the knowledge we already have constantly pushes humans toward a world built out of “personal opinions.”
In encountering any situation, it is easy to reach into our knowledge base and bring out the pieces of knowledge we already have and can readily access, namely our “opinion.” If someone tells me that today in every society on earth the use of “force” is prominent and we have to switch from force to making “knowledge” prominent, I can readily respond using my opinions. I may know nothing about the force-based and knowledge-based ways of life, but just having heard the words “force” and “knowledge” I can reach into my stored knowledge and express my “opinion.”
Every opinion is simply knowledge pieces already in the human mind. One puts them together and expresses them with ease. In contrast, finding out what the force-based system is and how it operates in human societies is not easy. Similarly, if I am told the Sermon on the Mount is a knowledge-based view of life, to understand it requires further knowledge processing. That is hard work.
That is why most if not all humans are “opinion givers.”
They are not interested in gathering new knowledge or thinking about and putting the existing and new knowledge together as a means to form deeper knowledge. Everyone really likes to stay in the domain of opinions, especially if done among like-minded individuals in a setting where one’s favorite beverage and snack are consumed, perhaps while watching one’s favorite game on television.
So we have a problem. A serious problem.
The ease of expressing opinions.
The difficulty of developing new pieces of knowledge.
In conducting everyday life, there is no problem with expressing opinions. Every aspect of human life involves expressing opinions. The problem resides in the ease of starting with opinions before engaging in the hard work of developing and using new pieces of knowledge. The human is stuck in the ease the opinions bring, always reluctant and resistant to engage in knowledge processing beyond opinions in order to create and use new pieces of knowledge.
Beyond the ease and difficulty issues, we have the question of “capability.” Assume a society that only knows how to make horse-driven carriages. Someone shows up telling them about new ways of knowledge processing that will create a special kind of carriage called Mercedes-Benz. He gives them the same spiel about the ease of staying with their opinions when making and using horse-driven carriages and the difficulty of creating new pieces of knowledge to make and use the Mercedes-Benz. Is it possible that the society of horse-driven carriages would resist the idea of Mercedes-Benz, not because of the knowledge processing difficulties but because of lacking the capability to create the needed knowledge pieces?
Regardless of how much I am told about building spaceships to travel to planets in other galaxies, I am not capable of building them. I cannot venture beyond expressing opinions about spaceships and space travel.
The capability question is paramount.
Serious implications exist for adopting the knowledge-based way of the Sermon on the Mount. What if the human capability is limited to society formation based on the force-based way of life? Regardless of what the answer might be, the fact remains that everyone’s starting point is the “world of opinions.” The existing world of opinions sits at the center of what is needed to develop a better understanding of the world.
Consider a new terminology. It says: every opinion is a “few-agree position.” Why should I call the opinion a “few-agree position?” Imagine a discussion among friends on subjects like politics or sports. In my experience, no one agrees with anyone and everyone seeks to push his or her point of view. Thus everyone’s position, everyone’s opinion, is a “few-agree position.”
We all rely on opinions as the best means for the flow of knowledge. Yet, in order to form and maintain a society, we have to develop some “many-agree” positions. Imagine what would happen if we could not reach the many-agree position that highways are for motor vehicles. Without the many-agree position, it would be okay to have bicyclists, horses, and pedestrians using them—or even children treating them as playgrounds.