Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Quest for Knowledge

I learned something new over the weekend. I learned that the back brakes on my car are different to work on than the front brakes even though they are the same kind of braking system. For a while there, I was frustrated and confused about why the back brakes did not respond to the same technique for replacing the brake pads that was used on the front brake system. It is a very simple difference really (on the front, the brake piston is pushed back to its starting position, while, on the back, it is twisted), but not being aware of a simple difference in technique would have meant the difference between being able to finish the job or not. I am glad I didn't just give up without searching the internet for the solution to my dilemma because that would have cost significantly more money to take my car to the shop and have them finish the job. Ignoring important information, especially information that I need to make my life better, could end up costing me in many different ways. One way is my pocket book, but another way is the safety of my family while driving our car.

I simply do not understand why people would deliberately choose to stay in the dark when it comes to learning new things or being exposed to new information, however, this is exactly what some people choose to do when it comes to information that does not promote their faith in God or the church. I am fully confident that I can judge when information is beneficial, dangerous, useless or does not fit with what I already know, but apparently these folks do not have that same confidence in their ability. The only reason I can postulate for why this is would be that either; A)There is some knowledge out there that is just too scary (designed to make you afraid), too dangerous (designed to hurt you) or not condoned by God (designed to prevent you from keeping the commandments of God) or B) There is a fear that some people are just actively trying to deceive you and, while on the surface their information may seem to make sense, it is really designed to trick you into believing false and deceptive things.

While these reasons for avoiding information may make sense to some, I am not sure how these kinds of judgments can be made about any information prior to actually becoming aware of, and considering as a possibility, as much of the information that is available as presented by both sides of the question.

While I was searching for clues and examples of how to finish the work on the back brakes on my car, I had to weed through lots of information that was actually irrelevant to my specific situation and brake system, but with each article read and video watched I came closer to the needed information I was looking for. I wonder why there are so many in my acquaintance who, when exposed to new information, choose to look the other way, ignore or immediately discredit the information, (or the source of "my" information) without even actually considering the information being presented?

I wish these people understood what it says to me when they choose to react like that. If I have some piece of information I choose to share with them, that I have taken great pains to find and verify the authenticity of in the first place, that is summarily dismissed as not important, relevant or pertinent to them in their situation, this is very hurtful. When they choose to ignore or dismiss information I am sharing, they are really dismissing all of my efforts to weed out information that is irrelevant, or possibly incongruous or illogical, and my ability to discern when information is accurate, useful or possibly very important. Aside from essentially labeling me as someone who is unable to figure things out on their own, or process information in a way that is beneficial, it is very frustrating and effectively impedes effective communication from being able take place. Once I have been labeled as someone who provides inaccurate or deceptive information, it is easy to then dismiss everything I say as such. It is amazing to me how quickly this label is applied to me nowadays without even checking to see if what I am saying is indeed accurate!

I had an interesting conversation with my father on Saturday night over dinner. My brother was there and he brought up religion for some reason (he is now an evangelical Christian and thinks of it as his calling to save all the Mormons from themselves). I don't recall all the details of the conversation because I was really only half listening to what my brother was saying, but it was apparent he was saying some things that were getting my father pretty upset. Of course, to be fair, if I were still a believing Mormon some of the things being said were pretty sacrilegious (to Mormonism, at least) and probably would have made me upset as well, or pretty embarrassed. I tried to refrain from jumping on the bandwagon, but then my father said that Joseph Smith never said that God was once a man like us and as God is man may become and that the information my brother was presenting was not true. I couldn't refrain any longer. I had to jump in and say, well, actually Joseph Smith did say that as God is man may become and as man is God once was. It was the whole subject of the King Follett Discourse delivered April 7, 1844 at a General Conference of the church. However, no matter what I said, my father insisted that it was never said and that I was mistaken. The trust in me as a potential source of information was completely abandoned when I was perceived to be going along with what my brother was saying. While there was nothing he was saying that was untrue, it was apparently offensive to the point where we could easily be discredited in his mind.

It was actually kind of funny because my dad went on to talk about how a discovery was made near the red sea that contained writings in Egyptian, written about a Pharaoh who talked about an evil leader who led the Israelite's across the red sea and that all of Pharaoh's army perished when the water came down on them when they followed. My father was using this information to point out that what you believe all depends on your perspective. This is very true. If I had been able to present a comeback to that information, I would have asked if it was possible to actually translate Egyptian? If so, I would have asked what the translation was of the papyrus the Book of Abraham was supposedly written on and how that compares with Joseph Smith's version? I guess that would have only led to further argument.

The good news is that I wasn't nearly as angry as I have been in times past when talking religion with my parents. I think I am finally letting go of the need to convince others that I am right. It is difficult to let others have their beliefs, even when I have studied those same beliefs at length and come to the conclusion that they are false.

I cannot think of any instance where, if someone came up to me claiming to have information that might be important for me to have, (because they were well versed in the subject matter) I would decide to dismiss it without first at least evaluating the information being presented for myself. Am I really that much different than so many people in my life?

(Please note: When using Firefox web browser, if you type a comment without logging in first, your comment may disappear when attempting to submit. To avoid this, login first and then type comment or always copy comment before attempting to submit.)

No comments:

Post a Comment