If you don’t act, you don’t know
Many people say that knowing something is the experience of something being self-evident. On the other hand, many people have experiences of things being self-evident, but are unmoved to take action. I consider this to be to be unworthy of the word “knowing.” Chinese philosopher Wang-yang-ming (1472-1529) wrote “There is no knowledge which does not lead to action. If one knows but does not act, then one does not really know.”
What is worthy of my life and fortune?
Say what you will about the signers of the Declaration of Independence. They mutually pledged to the support of the Declaration “their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.” History records that they acted on that pledge, and lived with the consequences. I say that for all his flaws, Thomas Jefferson knew something. Thomas Jefferson knew “All men are created equal.”
Why should it need all the love I can give?
“Climb Ev’ry Mountain” was written in 1959 by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It appeared at the end of the first act of the Broadway musical “The Sound of Music.” The musical is based on the real-life story of Maria von Trapp. The song is sung by the Mother Abbess of a convent, to Maria, who is conflicted between her spiritual aspirations and her feelings for Captain Georg von Trapp. Here are some of the lyrics:
Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Til you find your dream!
A dream that will need
All the love you can give
Every day of your life
For as long as you live!
I have offered a description of knowing as “an experience of something being self-evident which inspires consistent action.” I have suggested that knowing might be “to hold something to be self-evident, and to contribute to the support of that something one’s life, one’s fortune, and one’s sacred honor.” I now write words I have never written before. I consider that to know something means “to experience something as self-evident, and needing all the love I can give.”
How can such a thing even be? If something is self-evident, how can it possibly need all the love I can give? And yet, I say it was Thomas Jefferson’s experience that even though the idea “All men are created equal” was self-evident to him, it needed all the love he could give. Things that are self-evident to me might be gobbledygook to others.
Someone is reading this and asking “Well, Douglas, by the description you have provided, what do you know?” Do I dare to say I know anything? There might be a couple of things. Autistic people can be contributors to humanity. There is a New Message from God in the world.
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