Ask yourself what you know, then ask yourself how you know it. When you look up above your while standing outdoors, how do you know that to be the sky? You know that you are looking above your head because of the position of your own neck, but the fact that what you are staring into is called the sky is not something you learned somewhere from someone.
This is the pivotal moment when have the choice of asking a few more questions or accepting the knowledge as fact without further inquiry. We can recall the image of a child incessantly asking “Why?” in response to every question they are answered.
But this nagging curiosity is actually the root of knowledge. The scientists, philosophers, artists, and explorers research, learn, investigate, and express to bring us closer to answering these why questions. For many of us we are not availed the opportunity to ask them for ourselves so we have to trust the work that is done in the sectors of society that are tasked with uncovering our knowledge.
These knowledge farms, which are often educational institutions or private research firms, then pass their information to the government, and corporations. These organizations are the pillars of our lifestyle, they make everything, regulate everything and enforce everything. These institutions not only make the rules, but they define ethics and morality based on the knowledge they have sourced or acquired.
This is not problematic when the system works ideally. But when an individual holds up a badge they are symbolizing the trust we have granted the institution that licensed them to do their job. When the standards are not met, we have a break in trust, and can not have stability in a social agreement without trust.
When we do not commit our own searches for knowledge and find our authorities to be untrustworthy we can find a sense of turbulence in our social system. When we lack the means of verifying the information we are given from institutions trust is further eroded.
This is similar to the effect we would find when shop for healthy foods, we trust the FDA to allow appropriate labels for foods. If we don’t trust the FDA, we have little means of verifying the labels that are allowed, especially while we are in the process of making decisions in the grocery store.
Our institutional authorities are those that do the research and thinking on our behalf, they tell us what models should work best for us and we put faith in those models. This leaves us without additional inquiry.
It leaves us save in the arms of our governing bodies, but stripped of the pivotal question that rests at the base of all knowledge. So when we do find the courage to question those trusted with doing our thinking for us, and finally pose a simple “Why?” the answer is all to often the same one we would give a pesky kid with too many questions…
Because I said so.