Why Knowledge Is NOT Power

Knowledge is Important – and I think we all can agree with that statement.  Recorded history has shown us that our very continued existence as humankind is dependent on the success of gathering and disseminating correct knowledge.

This posting on Knowledge and Power is the first in a series of three I will be posting over the next 10 days.  I will inquire about this issue of knowledge and how it is used in our lives.

I am certain we probably are already aware of what I write – because it is so pervasive.  It is my hope over the next few days I can spark some thought to entice you to embrace possibilities in your life that come from the power in the knowledge you possess.

Let’s face it – everything we know and do is based on the transfer of that knowledge; and we as a human civilization have acknowledged and placed a high value on it.

As our civilizations grew, we became more and more obsessed with knowledge; and as a result, we created and developed systems and processes to maintain the integrity of knowledge.  We were organizing ourselves as societies and we recognized that; so these are some of what we created ways to do:

  • How to develop valuable knowledge,
  • How to validate its authenticity,
  • How we decide on the systems of organizing the information,
  • Ways in which to gather it,
  • The means of transferring the information,
  • The use of that knowledge,
  • and much, much more.

When this happened, we gave birth to the phenomenon of “Knowledge Is Power”.  We created a living social way of dealing with knowledge.  This is where POWER morphed from the “Physical” realm and into the “Intellectual”.

When we understood the incredibly immense power information held,
we then created systems to manipulate that information.

It is in these systems and processes where we need and want to better understand knowledge.  And … it is in these systems where the greatest abuses take place – especially by those who wield the most power.

Why We WANT To Know About Knowledge

 

Knowledge Has Been Bastardized

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER IS INFLUENCE

After the world woke up to how knowledge can be used, the use of knowledge was used and manipulated to focus more on achieving the ends of its intention.  On many occasions, the content of the information wasn’t/isn’t even important – it was the intention.  (I will provide examples below.)

Along the way towards progress over the last 10 or so centuries, we became smarter (and more scared).  A lot of that fear is/was rooted in the “fear of the unknown”.  So, what was the most natural reaction to face that fear: WAR, of course.  Then, as war became less of an annihilating proposition to protect our fear (after all, we are smarter, right?), we slowly began focusing our efforts on the power of information – or knowledge.  Hmmm … mind games were born.

As a result, we invested time looking inward into the human psyche and biological processes (along with art and music and literature) because we started to have more free time to think (rather than react).

AHA ! ! !

The social rules of “democratic” life were then conceived, developed, and directed by leaders who best became experts in understanding the myriad of possibilities in achieving power by using knowledge.  And what happened then:

Those rules favoured their own personal self-interests
(ie: influence) …

… then Laws were created to protect against
those rules and the people who dared to exercise them.

So what we have now is this graceful dance in society where we play the game of knowledge and power.  Those with knowledge become powerful and those without … unfortunately, no so powerful.

Here are some ways in which knowledge is used against us (and we accept it):

The first step in creating POWER from your knowledge:

WE FORM GROUPS

Knowledge is no good to anyone if it is not shared.

This is how power was exercised (and still used) to give leaders their influence.  Within these groups, individuals exercise their influence in their level of affiliation with that group.  We see it in:

  • Associations
  • Agencies
  • Syndicates
  • Unions
  • Teams
  • Schools
  • Governments
  • Media
  • Individual celebrities
  • Corporations
  • Clubs
  • Families
  • Sects
  • Religions
  • Gangs
  • and many other types of groups.

What gives knowledge it’s power in these contexts is in the value we’ve GIVEN these groups (either individually or as a society).  From that high value:

  1. We give them status and credibility.
  2. They exercise their power by having an effect on the actions of others.
  3. It is difficult to remove the group from their status group.

The Group holds the knowledge and decides how much is shared.

Knowledge as Benevolence.

In most instances, there is great value in the inquiry into the issue they are discussing, such as medical associations, or non-profit organizations, or philanthropists, for example.  They draw out the brightest and best to advance the interests and (financial) opportunities of their field of interest and their group.

Knowledge as Influence.

For some, knowledge is used to exercise their influence/power on others.  For these individuals, groups were formed to raise awareness, create social change, entice action, among other activities within change agency.  They draw out the most compassionate and socially respectable who affect the majority of society. Their goals include making concrete differences in life.  Therefore, we see groups such as neighbourhood clubs, athletic groups, and other localized and accessible groups.

Knowledge as Assets.

Still for others, knowledge is just a tool to give people more time or money.  Knowledge is money and it is played in time.  For those who really see life as a game – knowledge is the currency.  Unfortunately, time has shown us where this area has been wildly abused.  As it becomes more available and validated, we have found many instances of abuses by institutions who were held in high esteem and value in their societies and circles.  Examples are found in the number of wrongful convictions discovered (DNA), or with countries trying to institute sedition laws, or when high-security information is leaked publicly about an entrenched group that cannot be denied (Vatican).

As we became accustomed to the whole idea of “knowledge is power”, we’ve mistakenly grown to give knowledge too much credit.  Up until recently, we’ve too easily accepted the standards of the use of knowledge because we never knew the unimaginable amount of information available.

The saddest (and damning) result is that Knowledge
has been blindly accept
ed as a form of Truth by many people.

But now, here in the 21st Century, we are now faced with (probably) the most significant change our civilization will probably ever experience.

The walls of secrecy, information manipulation,
and concentration are coming down.

(We’re just having a hard time right now
because we are in the middle of that destruction!)

 

We’re Using Outdated Rationale and Practices

People are still clinging onto old processes.

What is real information/knowledge and what isn’t real and believable?  The format of information – the digital transformation where it now all begins – has created the convenience of the transfer and manipulation of the knowledge, but we still want to hang onto the HARD COPY necessities of old and outdated practices.  Digital information is still an evolving phenomenon.

We have seen over time that all the greatest advances in the world have taken place when the availability and transfer of knowledge increased.  Look at the changes we’ve experienced such as the invention of writing tools, the printing press, morse code, telephone, television, and radio.

With these advances in society, and because of the acknowledged PRIZED value to society, the creation and transfer of knowledge gave us sets of rules of conduct and systems to manage information and ensure it’s integrity and value.  From these, we got newspapers, books, literature, movies, advertising, won wars, greater health, and so much more to list.

The sources of knowledge also changed.

Where and how knowledge is taken in has been overran by technology changes the information highway.  With the advent of computerization, the changes in securing the integrity of information has not been able stay up to pace with changes in technology.  We are not accustomed to the speed of taking in information as it comes to us today.  The same can be said for access to information; as it globally has never been so widely available before to us.

The Greatest Social Change Ever Experienced Is Upon Us

Today’s technology can be cause for confusion.

Technology can cause greater confusion among the masses because we are faced with thoughts (in the back of our mind) concerning what to read or view.  Is there too much information?  The quick pace of change has been overwhelming, and for half of society (mostly the older half, lol) – too quick.  We have never been exposed to such quick changes – we were brought up to establish habits and routines.

Issues of trust is amplified.

There are many sources of TRUSTED information in many formats from many places.  Skepticism among the general public (50% is under 30 years old) is increased because the established forms and sources of information no longer have their power.  Established media cannot control information any more because they themselves are being overrun by credible competition.

The model for sharing is not just changed – it is transformed!

Whereas, before it was:

  1. information came in,
  2. information-holder decided what was worthy of releasing for public knowledge (for whatever reason – mostly money!),
  3. the information was released (or not) and spurred public discussion, then
  4. they moved onto the next issue/story/problem/upset.

NOW:

The ability for true knowledge-sharing
is taking place
for the first time in civilized society;
AND it’s global.

SECRECY CAN NO LONGER BE ASSURED

 

Information is becoming more segmented and personal.

Where and how knowledge is used is now changing faster and has no current base from which to measure itself successfully without established credible systems and institutions.

  • Over 50% world’s population is under 30
  • Younger people have developed different needs and wants from their information.
  • Individual “Niche Expertise” is becoming the new frontier in information sharing and the systems of knowledge exchange.
  • Young people do not trust established sources of information.
  • Now we have “crowd-sourcing” or “group-think”


As I have noted, Knowledge is NOT Power.  There was a time when it was what made the world go ‘round; but with the events of the last 25 years, this is no longer the case.

In the next posting, I will look at the current struggle for maintaining the status quo, and how it is being feverishly supported and maintained with much at stake.  It proves to be an interesting and eye-opening post.

See you then.

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Values & Beliefs: Is there Real Truth?

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TRUTH!

That elusive amoeba promising something forever out of reach; yet, remains close enough to give us its sister: HOPE!

TRUTH!

This spoken declaration – this pretend game every organized group claims to own and behold.

TRUTH!

Applied in the reality of agreement.  The greater number of those declaring a statement as truth, the greater and more powerful the truth becomes.

TRUTH!

With agreement (and agreement only), comes a unified voice whose only aim is to convince others they own the truth!

TRUTH!

Handcuffs of human conditioning placing our values and beliefs into a negative-based system of “punishment or more punishment”.

TRUTH!

Disempowering when sought in the realm of morality and religiosity – with its rules, crimes, rituals, and exclusivity.

TRUTH!

An elephant in the room of those in a position of power whose responsibility it is to practice and live in the spirit as well as to the letter.

TRUTH!

That soothing and addictive elixir first nurtured at suckling.  We seek it because we were promised it.

TRUTH!

As it is.  It is so.

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Awareness: The Social Misjustice of Prostitution

“We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true.
Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.”

Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

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Drug abuse, violence, coercion, and disease.

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These are not exactly working conditions that summons one to aspire to a career in prostitution; yet, there is never a shortage of new candidates entering the “world’s oldest profession”.  This beckons the question:

  • Why does someone use their bodies to trade sex for money,

  • When all the evidence of this lifestyle proves it as being dangerous and life-threatening?

The pimp’s only aim is to make money off the sex trade of women.


***

In her book “The Prostitution of Sexuality, Kathleen Barry describes how the pimp targets women who are vulnerable enough to create an emotional dependency.  Once contact is made, the pimp must:

  • first ensure the woman is influenced by the enticement of substantial financial gain; and then,

  • she must learn to shed any moral objections to prostitution work.

Bill Shackleton in his book Protecting Prostitutes wrote,

“A pimp would use an effective and orderly method of gaining the services of women.  He would first display affection and generosity, and then carefully move to establish a sexual relationship”.

During this stage of recruitment, the woman has never been a prostitute prior to the relationship; and therefore, she needs to learn previous unknown behaviors.

***

In progressive steps, the pimp:

  1. rewards her by telling her she is special and beautiful,

  2. she has worth, and

  3. he can help her overcome her difficulties.

Until she becomes skilled and exhibits the changed behaviour he requires, he would increasingly reward her until he gains her trust and cooperation.

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Annette and Graham Scambler discovered that for the prostitute, the most pervasive form of enticement is financial gain.  When she is living the “lifestyle:

  • the payoff is immediate,

  • payday is every day she is willing to work, and Immediacy becomes a way of life.

When the pimp has the prostitute under this control, he ensures Positive Reinforcement is employed through the constant and immediate rewards of getting paid for services rendered.  Free from their poverty lifestyle, he understands she will like having money in her pocket at all times – and for so little effort.

As the relationship develops,
the pimp becomes the prostitute’s father, lover, and friend.

***

In her book Of Vice and Women: Shades of Prostitution” Margaretha Järvinen describes how she must work very hard to earn his respect, his love, and to keep him achieving the best in material possessions.

At this point, the pimp understands that he has her under his control. The pimp no longer needs to provide continuous immediate rewards using positive reinforcement because the prostitute is already performing; rather, he changes his tactics:

  • the pimp would reward her intermittently so she can then work even harder to achieve his financial goals, and

  • he rewards her just often enough continue the improving performance of developing into a productive object for him and to keep her satisfied.

The pimp reaches a point where he will use Punishment to maintain control over the prostitute.

He wants her to learn that he is the boss, and she is subservient to him.

He realizes that just punishing her will eventually not bring the desired result he wants (which is obedience) because she will just rebel and move on or become aggressive with him and cause him problems.  Instead, he will use punishment infrequently, and use it in conjunction with other types of rewarding reinforcement.

Prostitutes have to earn the respect of the pimp.

The pimp knows his success is dependent on fuelling two emotions in a woman:

  • love and

  • fear.

To many women,
the lifestyle can be socially fulfilling and psychologically addicting.

By the time women are ready to leave prostitution, they realize that what they have accumulated as a result of their financial dream amounted to little but:

  • a collection of arrest records,

  • a blur of experiences, and

  • a path of abandonment by those they cared about.

The woman has come to the realization there is no rewards left in the trade.

When this time comes, the woman has come to this realization: there are no rewards to be won; therefore, no reason to continue the behavior.

From the beginning to the end of a prostitute’s career,
it is clear the relationship of dependence between the woman and the pimp.

He is always in control, and for the most part is always the one with the power.  He uses every conditioning principle to manipulate the woman into changing her behavior so he can gain maximum benefit for himself alone.

Although the main goal for both parties is to make as much money as possible, his investment in the woman pales in comparison to the cost to her mind and body.

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Victor Hugo called prostitution slavery.
His words are no less valid today as they were two centuries ago.

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Values & Beliefs: Why Tolerance is NOT Acceptable

Can somebody be given the power to choose who/what is tolerable and who/what isn’t?

If you think ‘yes’, then you need to read this post and see if you are missing some information about Tolerance.

 If your answer is ‘no’, then we probably have a lot in common regarding how tolerance is perceived and used in society.  I haven’t heard a call for Tolerance in some time, so maybe it is gone out of fashion and out of acceptability by the masses.

The way is in my experiences and learnings are explained on how I see Tolerance and why it is not acceptable.

There are some who hail Tolerance as an optional path towards unity and human happiness.  The fact that someone would still use this thought pattern has his head so far up his own butt (yes, I specifically refer to ‘his’) that he deserves the misery he inflicts upon himself.  Yet, some people think it is okay.  How this can be accepted is quite confusing, and it has me question my interpretation of Tolerance as it is viewed by societies at large.  It begs me to ask:

What the Heck is Tolerance?

***

Through my life experiences (even though I am a white guy in a white racist society), I have been on the receiving end of Tolerance.  If you can relate to the experience, then you know it is something that is felt more than said.  Of course, when it is said, it is usually done in a joking way or an aside comment.  Here’s an example of one of my recent experiences in college:

I was tutoring a student with visual impairment.  We went to the college library to book a room.  The ‘system’ of the college took precedence over common sense; so when my student showed her student card to the staff, because there wasn’t a green dot on the back of the card (signifying a disability – get that, huh?), she could not book the room.  Though I don’t look or act disabled, my student was obvious in her sightedness.

Neither I nor my student (both with the Disability Office) ever heard about this oppressive ‘green dot’ policy.  We had to be assertive and somewhat insisting on the rights of students and the accompanying accommodations.  Until we were able to get the attention of the Management were we able to gain access to the room.  The closing comment by the staff was something like “well, we will let it go this time.”

It was a moment of realizing that it was possible that staff member was Tolerating differently-abled, or “diff-abled” students.  And maybe, this was her way of trying to overcome her own sense of powerlessness – by inflicting it upon another through displaying both her Intolerance and Tolerance.

The most interesting thing happened later on.  I went through the complaint procedure and ended up getting a meeting with Management (and there another issue needed to be discussed).  It was professional and cordial and the necessary explanations and excuses were made to justify their actions.

When we left the meeting, we were walking casually and off-the-record, and he came around to saying to me (I am paraphrasing), “You know how young students are?  They are irresponsible and don’t listen.”  It was said so casual, like a “nudge-nudge wink-wink, know-what-I-mean, eh?”  (Thanks, Monty Python.)

So, after I wrapped my mind around that remark, I realized that comment could be understood to mean (to me, anyways, because he did acknowledge my mature status as a student):

1 – that ALL young students are the same,

2 – YOUNG students are irresponsible,

3 – they are being Tolerated,

4 – I should feel the same way he does given our ages,

5 – I should Tolerate the students too, and

6 – I should now understand the REAL reasoning behind their oppressive actions.

***
Back to my wonderings.

Is the Tolerating (and dominant) person/party
implying there is something wrong
with the differences over whom they feel superior?

In my search for answers to this and other questions, I also wondered why we have to use “othering” (or the symbol of their group) and put them down in order to achieve some kind of superior/powerful position.

This is the story in my head (from the ‘Meaning Making Machine’) about the way I see Tolerance:  It is an act by someone who ruthlessly allows somebody or something to “be” in spite of that person’s own perceived objections.

In other words,
the person doing the tolerating
is telling or implying to the person being tolerated
that s/he does not meet their standard.

***

It is not hard to see the possibility of Tolerance as an issue of power?  I sometimes get the feeling that when Tolerance is spoken or acted upon, it is no longer tolerance – it becomes arrogance.  Tolerance is divisive, exclusive, and laced with hidden prejudice.

I sometimes see Tolerance as a political tool.  Why the destructive nature of Tolerance is used this way (reasons/excuses) causes me to question the ignorance of people who accept it.  All Tolerance does is delay the journey towards understanding of others and ourselves.  It does not foster understanding, and it is not respectful.  It is just a grab for power over another.

The way Tolerance is expressed is so flexible,
that it can be anything between subtle sub-text in a conversation and
overt actions of obvious discrimination.

Everybody inherently knows this.  We know it is lip-service.  We know Tolerance doesn’t work and we all know someone still ends up feeling disempowered.  Yet, there is a lot of us who pretend to be humble when using Tolerance.

To accept Tolerance as an affective tool or way of being towards fostering a harmonious society is to both stunt the growth of this quest and do MORE harm towards our fellow human beings.

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NEVER ACCEPT TOLERANCE!

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Values & Beliefs: The Evil of Graham James’ Criminal Sentence

With the sentencing of the pedophile Graham James, is this an indication of the Canadian justice system not understanding the true effects of sexual abuse against boys?

At least to me, there seems to be a huge void within the official government system in coming to grips with the true reality of the effect of this kind of abuse – against anybody!

How this act of ignorance by the justice system is still allowed to continue is beyond me.  In all their history and education, do they not truly hear and feel the effects on victims when their stories are shared?  Do they not have information from medical and psychological experts that worked with victims?  Do they not have access to cold statistics from agencies that show the cost to society?


The government of Canada is not short of information and resources
to know
the evil and life-long negative effects this can have on a victim.


It cannot be avoided in this day and age of wide open communication and personal expression to realize we are only now beginning to see the victims come forward with stories of heinous acts perpetrated against them.  What’s becoming more evident, is that we are only starting to see the “tip of the iceberg” on how wide-spread this epidemic will spill into the everyday walking public.  And how does the justice system deal with it?

I know one thing for sure, every organization that works, or have worked with young people going back 40 to 50 years ago are certainly shaking in their boots right now as they desperately re-visit their pasts.  And sadly, I have no doubt (given the conversations I’ve personally had with victims of pedophiles), that there will be a lot of shocking (or maybe not) news of organizations who have either made the complaints go away or turned a blind eye to the “quiet whispers” within the ranks.


Sadly still, this will not be limited to boys.
I’m sure we will hear about girls’ groups and organizations as well.

***

But back to the sentencing.

I’ve tried to look at it from different angles so I could firmly get a grip on my emotional rationale.  (Isn’t that a contradiction in terms, eh?)  Anyways, I was wondering how the public and the Justice System would react to such heinous and evil acts were perpetrated by Graham James if the boys were abused in a different way.

Now, I am just looking at the effects any particular crime would have on a victim.  I’ve considered the vulnerability of the victims and how they would relate to my following made-up scenario victims.  I’ve chosen that particular type of victim because I personally believe the same types of vulnerability relate.  They only differ in that James’ victims have an emotional/psychological disability, whereas the victims in the story below, they are physical.

***

Would the sentence be different if the boy’s lives were destroyed by James from a criminal misdeed such as this:

As a trusted community leader wielding enormous and unquestioned power (a dream coach), James promises success to blind boys who live by his every directive and hang on his every word as if he was a god. But after their work, James chooses specific vulnerable individuals who are told they must secretly drink a questionable and disgusting muscle-enhancing cocktail – or no more chances at fulfilling their dreams. They simply cannot say no. “Besides”, they think, “it’s not hurting me, and James would never hurt a blind boy trying to reach his dreams”.

After many years of increasing problems, the boys find out the cocktail was not healthy; rather, it was a poison that slowly eats away the brain. James deliberately gave it to them – on purpose – without their regard – with false promises – all for his personal and diabolical satisfaction while knowing that some day those boys would be physically broken, struggling, and never be the same again.

Some time later, James finally gets caught and admits his heinous crimes. As a serial offender with many other blind victims now living in the same shame, guilt, and pain, the epidemic of poisoning blind kids becomes more known to the public (80,000+ in Canada at some estimates).

When James go in front of the judge for sentencing, he tells the judge he’s sorry that he destroyed lives, and families, and CHILDREN who are now walking around quietly suffering without end.

***

This is what I HEARD IN MY HEAD (that other voice), what Her Honour had to say on passing sentence (interchange the real and made-up events):

“Mr. James, I believe you are truly sorry. I don’t believe you have any more now-adult blind victims out there (out of the thousands you were in contact with) who were forced to drink your poison when they were just boys.  So I’m going to be lenient.

Mr James, while statistics show otherwise, I believe someone who poisons blind boys for their own personal satisfaction usually only does it once or twice.  I believe that after attending that short program on how to stop poisoning blind boys, you have convinced me that you are honest in being cured of wanting to poison any more blind boys. Your truthfulness calls for leniency.

Mr James, I don’t see any physical issues your victims are currently facing. We can’t see how their minds are still slowly being eaten away after decades.  They are walking around and running their lives.  The issues they face can be fixed after a short program (something like yours).And finally Mr. James, forget about how their families suffered all those years as the poison quietly ate away at the victim’s brains. They don’t look like they have been or currently are suffering in trying to deal with the horrible effects and how they manifest in the victim’s actions.  Besides, all families fight, have secrets, and shame issues.  So, I will go easy on you.

Therefore Mr. James, I will only sentence you to 2 years for the following 10 reasons:

  1. admitting your actions (only after you’ve been caught),

  2. feeling sorry (only after you ran out of legal options),

  3. abusing your immense power (and getting away with it your decades),

  4. inflicting life-long pain on your victims (from which they would never recover),

  5. hiding in another country to avoid detection (hoping people will ignore or forget),

  6. being nice and coming back (to save you from a longer sentence),

  7. deceit, lying, coercion, destroying trust (on thousands of kids and adults who believed in you 100% without question),

  8. forcing the victims to risk their identity and shame by having to come forward publicly,

  9. allowing me the opportunity to totally disregard the severe and devastating impact on the his many victims, and

  10. I don’t think this crime is that much of a big deal. They were only blind kids and you only poisoned them a few times many years ago.

I trust this meets with your plea bargain.

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I know I am biased in my opinion when I compare these stories because I chose the scenario.  Personally, I believe vulnerable young people who are give their trust, innocence, power to an older and trusted individual, are ripe to sexual predators and pedophiles (whether against boys or girls).

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Would you accept James’ actions if it was for poisoning instead of this type of crime (and hidden epidemic)?


After all, they provide the same result.

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