Posted by: ritagone | September 8, 2010

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

My new favorite saying is “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Several weeks ago, CA’s friend (and mine) Mike Dauphinee informed me that you could navigate internally in the online brokerage firm we both are members of by signing a form that allows you to go to a link in the upper left hand corner of the home page.  I never knew that!  I have about six different accounts with this brokerage firm, and prior to getting this information from Mike, I would log out and then log in to our various accounts.  It was time consuming and – let me just say it – stupid.  But within  hours of learning of this link from Mike, I dragged my husband to our local brokerage office, we signed the necessary document, and 36 hours later, I can navigate through five of our accounts by simply pulling down the menu in the upper left-hand menu of the home page!  Easy!  Simple!

This made me realize with a thud: You don’t know what you don’t know.  For years I had done it the time-consuming way because I didn’t know any better.

Now, expand this concept to so many other areas of life: what else don’t I know?  What else don’t you know that you don’t know?  What makes this so frustrating and disturbing, of course, is that we don’t know what we don’t know.  Sometimes these are called blind spots.  And most of the time, we ignore the reality that we have them, which makes it even more frightening.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about a particular political issue, and she asked my opinion about it.  I told her that I assumed we – the American public – most likely didn’t have enough information to make an intelligent decision or form an opinion that was even worth forming.  And yet we do it all the time, don’t we?  We pontificate and spout off and buttonhole anyone and everyone who will listen because…well, because we want to be heard, because we’ve got something important to be said, and because we know, we are sure we know something that someone else doesn’t know.  After all, we watch Fox News or CNN, we read The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, we subscribe to certain intelligent blogs or websites that fill us in on all current events.  Whatever we consider our “sources,” we convince ourselves that we know.  That we are in the know.

In a society that feels itself entitled to be let in on details about every situation from terrorist attack to political intrigue, do we really believe that the government authorities are revealing to the American public information that would jeopardize the security of this country?  Obviously, when you think about it in the cool, clear light of day, we are most likely not told a great deal about anything that is happening around us.  Those in authority in the government parcel out information like tidbits to a dog, being careful that the media tells us what those government officials want us to hear.  And that’s the minimal amount of information we form our opinions around.

Would we really live more comfortably if we knew every salient detail of every potential terrorist attack thwarted every day in every city around the world?  I for one don’t want to know that hundreds or maybe thousands of these attacks are prevented in airports and shopping malls and other public places, places where I set my foot the next day or the next week.  I don’t know what I don’t know, and sometimes that’s a good thing.  I’m glad that there are people whose job it is to stop things from happening before they take place, because I figure life is risky enough without knowing everything about the world around me.

In science fiction movies, there’s always a virus that is coming or a creature that is about to destroy the planet, and we’re watching it as it slinks toward the major metropolitan areas of the world, unbeknownst to the everyday citizens of civilization.  And there is always a small group of people who are in the know.  I always figure that I’ll be in the group of people who are not in the know, and I’ll die quickly, in the first 10 minutes of the movie.  I figure it’ll be over fast, maybe painlessly, nothing special, and it’s all due to the fact that you don’t know what you don’t know.

That’s why I’m so thankful that there is one realm in life where I know what I know: my relationship with God and with Jesus Christ.  I think about the many thousands and millions of people who don’t know what they don’t know, who refuse to acknowledge their need for Jesus, who blithely move through their lives thinking their knowledge of the world around them is sufficient.  So there’s not knowing what you don’t know about a brokerage account access – which is a bit of a time waster and frustrating.  And there’s not knowing what you don’t know about a Saviour, which is eternally serious.

And I know what I know there: it’s good to know Jesus!!


Regards,  Rita

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