Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is Knowledge Power?

"Knowledge is power" said the 16th century philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon. And a fellow Englishman disagreed, saying "Knowledge is only possibility, action is power." The words of Francis Bacon are heard often, the other clarifying words are never or seldom heard. A writer in the open forum page of the Catholic Times agrees with Bacon's contemporary: Knowledge by itself is not enough. Personal experience of what is known is required.

Knowledge that is not put into practice is not full knowledge, says the writer. Putting into practice what we know is what is important. No matter the plans we may make or how intense our desires may be, if not carried out, the plans and the desires are worthless. It's an important consideration to keep in mind, he points out, now that we are again approaching the lunar New Year, a time for resolutions; such as how do we make more money, how do we achieve better health?

We may retort that it's better than having no plans. But is it? When the results are the same. Knowledge, with or without a plan, is power when we act from the knowledge we have.

Being fortunate to be living in the information age, we have access to the possibility of all kinds of knowledge.  All we have to do is go to our smart phones, find the relevant information we're looking for, and put it into practice. He quotes a Japanese writer who says that many have the knowledge at their finger tips, but only one percent put it into practice. How much of what we know do we actually put into practice?  he asks. Of course we explain our lack of action by saying we store it away to be used some day when necessary. Our writer calls the ones who do put into practice what they know the wise of the world.

The same can be said for our faith life. We are often told that what we believe, if not put into practice, is dead. We as Christians have to discern what is from God before we put it into practice. Knowing what God wants is important, and this knowledge comes to us in the words of revelation. Our prayers, we must never forget, should be listening prayer, if we are to find out what God wants from us now.

Putting into practice our knowledge will provide us with the strength to persevere through the inevitable hardships of life. Knowledge that is not put into practice is only self-satisfaction. Those who push on into action are those with courage and conviction, moving them in the direction of success. If we hope to catch fish by looking at the water and imagining the fish we are going to catch, we're  going to be disappointed unless  we spring into action and drop a  fish line into the water. And our faith life, without a similar action on our part, will  also be fruitless, without meaningful change, stuck in the old ways. With the beginning of the lunar New Year let us resolve to be
not a person of knowledge only but a person of action.

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