Conversations with Mom – Courage and Character

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Mom was a very courageous woman.  While saddled with disabilities her whole life (chronic asthma and chronic diabetes), she still managed to “stay with the crowd” and raise her eight children the best she can – in spite of it all.

On many, many times over the years, I witnessed the strength she showed in both words and deeds – and nothing came easy to her.  Regardless of the circumstances, she made the best of it.  In her limited ways (also a brutal husband controlling her), she always created an environment of safety and care.

What I remember and admire most about Mom was the way she was able to “take on” risk with such ease and confidence.  She lived without fear.  (For a woman, she had a lot of balls!)

I remember asking her when I was a teenager about her viewpoint on Risk.  I don’t remember the exact circumstances to bring it up; but I remember she defended someone in the family (against some institution) and rose to the occasion.

I was in awe.

For the first time, I witnessed the power of her words and the strength in her actions.  I finally realized and experienced the courage she displayed in doing so.

Shortly afterwards, I asked (not exactly in these words) if she was afraid to take that risk.  I know I was scared as heck.

Well, Mom had a vocabulary that was a little fractured – but very understandable in any language.  Not shy to use ‘colourful metaphors’ when angered, she told me in her unique way of her philosophy regarding character:

“I don’t care what people think of me –
as long as I can hold my head high in integrity.”

Her response was ground-breaking for me.  I didn’t realize before character and dignity could be related.  I always thought dignity was controlled by the actions of our character; and if we did things that were un-liked by others, then we were to be shamed.  Then this lesson.

That empowering personal lesson stays with me today.  In every act I perform in life, I not only ensure my dignity remains intact; but I also advocate it for others.

The lesson I learned that day:

Healthy dignity (our self-esteem) is a right to everyone.  Nobody can or has the right to take it away from us.

Thanks Mom.

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.