Knowing Better

When do you know better? The implication is that it only happens after the event is over. Perhaps you are lucky enough to remember from a previous time. Do you remember the last time you wished you knew better?

Age gives experience. This experience guides us. For better or worse, that experience shapes our lives and decisions. When things seem lost, we look to our maps. If the maps are incorrect or not appropriate for the situation, we still tend to believe them. If we accept that the map is of no help, then we are truly lost. It is more comfortable to think that our experience will save us. The truth is that experience is hit and miss. Things are constantly changing and our grasp of reality is relative to what we have already taken in.

Large unexpected situations trigger shock. Typically these events catch us completely off guard. Our maps are useless. People in shock are frozen in inaction. When there is no clear decision to make, we do nothing. Witnessing shock in another person is quite a degree different from experiencing it. I have seen a car accident that happened two times. The first accident was with another vehicle. The second accident was with the ditch. The driver was in shock from the first accident and did not think to apply the brake. It is surreal to witness this happen. It is common to think that people will make rational choices regardless of the circumstances. This is not how we work.

When large unexpected world events happen, entire countries can enter shock. This shock can trigger gigantic reactions from the population. The experience of the nation has never had to deal with such extremes. Largely, the reaction is typically based on emotions. The goal is to prevent such a thing from happening again and to seek out the culprits. It is kind of like what happens when a hornet’s nest is disturbed. The chance of contemplation is fairly small. There are many potential mental outcomes for shock. Given that the event is unexpected, it is off the logical map. The default nature is to return to our roots. Whatever deep animal instinct exists, it will return.

People always think they know better. If they didn’t, not much would happen. The old dispense with advice to anyone who will listen. The young rebel and decide to change the world. The middle aged get lost between the two and eventually revisit ideas of their youthful idealistic core. The point is that it is impossible to know better all the time. In fact, knowing better means that you most likely do not understand what is going on.

As big as the universe is, there is no master plan. All things to their own purposes. When it becomes necessary to interact, the rules are based on combining rules of those things. Having an idea about what would be better for someone else goes against nature. Whereas nature families can influence what happens within their own group, there is no easy way to influence others. Most interaction between groups is based on keeping alive. There are multiple ways this happens. The point is that one individual animal is not going to think “I wish that predator would not attack me and leave my group alone”. Basic survival does not have the luxury of communication or manipulation. Animals, like humans, are basing their decisions on experience. Catastrophic events trigger panic and shock. Again, it is easy to make some really bad decisions in shock.

Knowing better. It is often counterproductive for the moment at hand. We think we know better for so many things happening in the world. If we were given the power to make a difference, would we distribute our knowledge and make changes to the way things work? Most people would do this without a second thought. Danger is being given this chance.

We are not as wise as we think. We do not realise that our desire to improve things most likely has a negative counterbalance. Long term repercussions appear long after the decision. What one person can see the future of these choices?

There is an old Beatles song called “Let It Be”. This song always confused me. The Beatles were strong advocates of social change. They lived by example for a whole generation of young people. Many of their early songs were based on projecting change. Somehow, at the end, they were advocating leaving things as they are. It took many many years to understand the merit of this message. Each person has their own perspective. The opinion I am about to share is obviously my angle.

When you hear things like “Let It Be” or “The world will find a way”, it is not a statement of doing absolutely nothing. It is not necessarily a belief in peace. The core of the idea (for me) is that this is not about “knowing better”. It is not about using your experience to project a better future. It is not about creating change in the world or others to satisfy yourself. It is about respecting what is and trying hard to understand that not reacting is indeed a valid reaction. The simplest explanation is that there is no way to know what is best for the entire world. Your best views are not the same as everyone else.

In fact, the most change comes from within. You are more likely to be happy if you decide to change how you look at things instead of putting your focus on the world. If anything, the world will appear to be a reflection of what is going on inside you. Change yourself, and the world will appear differently. However, keep in mind that you should be careful even with changing yourself. If you understand yourself well, the changes will come much more smoothly.

At some point, you simply must let go. So many things are out of your control. If we had lives like we dreamed of, we would miss all the things that made us the way we are. Tragic events are terrible, but we recover and learn. We grow not from what we expected, but rather from those things that hit us unexpectedly. In part, we are here to learn that which we have never dealt with before. If I knew everything there was, life would not be the constant surprise that it is.

So, let it go. Let it be. And most important, admit that you do not know everything. You might be surprised with life again.

Live near Brisbane, Australia. Software developer currently focused on iOS and Android. Avid Google Local Guide

Posted in Observations

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