Those Who Know Are Ignorant; Those Who Don’t Know Are Wise


I have been in intellectual conflict with many people in my life and sometimes it can be downright frustrating! I have noticed in all my interactions with others that people are reasoning from one of two perspectives:  reasoning based on knowledge or reasoning based on wisdom.

The culture in which I was raised (the United States) seems to be a culture that predominantly values reasoning based on knowledge. We see this in law, science, engineering and religion.  In law, we demand definitive knowledge and facts in order to determine if we should convict or acquit.  In science and engineering, knowledge and facts determine what is and is not possible.  In religion, the knowledge of accepted interpretations of scripture determines what is right and what is wrong.

The other form of reasoning is from a place of wisdom. This viewpoint is aware of facts, but it is also aware of a bigger picture.  Choices have consequences because the bigger picture reveals a connection between all of life.  This is the compassion perspective that is not quick to judge (unlike reasoning based on knowledge), nor is it quick to apply knowledge without forethought.  Above all, it does not blindly accept the written word at face value.  Reasoning based on wisdom is a totally different way of thinking from what traditional western culture normally employs.

Yet, two different ways of thinking are not required in order to have a debate with another. I have found that heated disputes occur when at least one party reasons based on knowledge.  I think that this has to do with an underlying craving to be “right.”  After all, to be right is to be loved and accepted…or so the belief goes.  Because a person reasoning from knowledge feels separate from his adversary, he need only concern himself with making his case so that the other will “see the light” and support and love him.  It does not matter so much how he wins the argument.  What does matter is that he wins the argument because if he doesn’t, he is deemed “wrong” and loses out on the ultimate prize–love and acceptance.

Winning and losing as well as being right or wrong are meaningless to those who reason from a place of wisdom. When you are connected to the person with whom you are engaged in discussion, why on earth would you want to defeat that person?  If you are aware of a bigger picture, how could you claim that you are right and the other person is wrong when rightness and wrongness is a simple matter of perspective?  As a result, when two participants are reasoning from wisdom, both recognize their connection to each other and therefore, quarrels do not occur.  This does not mean that differences do not exist and resolutions are always arrived at.  Sometimes solutions require time as each side slowly assimilates what has been learned during the interaction with each other.  Those who are wise recognize the power of being uncertain and are quite comfortable in not knowing.

Not knowing, in this sense, is different from being ignorant. One displays ignorance when interacting with another when one is paying no attention to some aspect of what is being discussed or its context, be it the bigger picture or the background of the other person.  Not knowing, on the other hand, is being uncertain, and interestingly opens one up to possibilities that tend to be missed by those who are certain in their knowledge.  If you are certain that a person is guilty of a crime, why bother gathering facts at the scene of the crime?  If you are certain that a certain technology is harmless, why bother testing it?  If you are certain of the meaning of a sacred text, why not simply follow it to the letter without further study and contemplation?  It is obvious that deep down, we all know that nothing is black and white and that mistakes and misunderstandings do occur and that solutions beyond our current imaginations are possible.  Thus, we all have a part of us that is wise, if only we allow ourselves to listen to it regularly!

Having the ability to act wisely does not guarantee a life free of troubles. We must put this wisdom to use regularly.  Otherwise, we open ourselves to be manipulated by others in a way that can be summarized by the following:

The easiest people to fool are those who know; the hardest people to fool are those who don’t know.

This is true because some of what we think of as facts or truth is not facts or truth at all, but merely theories or accepted beliefs. As long as people fail to recognize that a particular idea is just a belief or a theory, they can easily be led through a line of reasoning that convinces them to conclude that what would otherwise be seen as false is true and what would otherwise be seen as true is false!  On the other hand, when you acknowledge that don’t know something, you open yourself up to seeing things from a fresh perspective, untarnished by collective biases and nefarious manipulative techniques.

A person free from manipulation is a person free to be authentic and free to truly enhance the world we live in. In writing this article, I am reminded of verse 71 of the Dao De JingHere is my current translation of it:

One who knows what he does not know is a superior man.
One who does not know what he knows is sick.
If one truly consents to be sick of being sick, this is the reason he is not sick.
If a saintly person is not sick, it is because he is sick of being sick; this is the reason he is not sick.

 

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Authenticity Is the Antidote to Corruption


Picking up from the ideas in my Who Has the Power? article, I want to write about an important aspect of harnessing our personal power together with others in order to create a society that works for all.  Obviously, society does not work for all at this point in the evolution of human beings, but why is that?

It comes down to one word: corruption.  Corruption typically is associated with money influencing public policy.  Many of the problems that we experience collectively, if not personally, are a result of public policies that favor wealthy campaign contributors over the general population.  For instance, pollution is rampant because governments allow, if not favor, the production of various products that directly or indirectly pollute the environment.  Poverty is increasing because governments encourage the flow of money toward a relatively small number of corporations mainly through tax regulations, subsidies, mandates (such as requirements to have insurance) or laws designed to obscure information that would discourage the public from buying certain products (such as laws to prohibit the straightforward labelling of genetically modified foods).  There are many more examples of corruption and the interesting thing about the examples that I gave is that they are forms of legal corruption.  So, corruption is more than merely breaking the law in order to make a buck.

In fact, I see corruption as more rampant than a few corrupt politicians or a few laws that favor the rich. We have corrupt governments because we the people are corrupt citizens!  What I mean by that is that many of us place great importance on money in our lives.  Some display corruption when they act in a stingy or greedy manner.  Others show corruption when they are struggling to survive and feel forced to focus much of their attention on making or saving every penny they can.  Both of these cases differ from the traditional examples of corruption in that instead of being motivated to gain political power, they are concerned with attaining personal power within a societal context.

That’s not all. Corruption needn’t be limited to acquiring money.  In the broadest sense, corruption occurs whenever a person deviates from being authentic.  Examples of corrupt action that have nothing to do with money are when someone follows an immoral law, yields to peer pressure or succumbs to manipulation.  In the case of following an immoral law, the legal system uses a threat of punishment in order to get people to do things they might not want to do naturally.  In the cases of peer pressure and manipulation, the threat of social isolation is a prime motivator for suppressing authentic expression in favor of conformity to a particular standard.

It seems to me that there are two forms of peer pressure: concrete and abstract. Concrete peer pressure is demonstrated whenever a person feels compelled to act in a certain way in order to avoid social isolation.  Examples of this type of peer pressure include keeping up with the latest fashion and incessantly attending parties where drinking is the main event. Abstract peer pressure, on the other hand, is exhibited whenever a person feels compelled to think in a certain way in order to avoid social isolation.  This type of peer pressure involves embracing unexamined traditional beliefs, be they religious, philosophical, political or scientific in nature.

Now that we have looked at how a person can become corrupt in the broadest sense, it becomes apparent that we all contribute to the existence of corruption in the world simply by not being authentic. The next thing to ask is, “How can I be authentic right now?”  To answer this question, you have to be brutally honest with yourself without condemning yourself.  The purpose of this self-examination is to transform destructive ways of being into constructive ways of being; shaming yourself for engaging in unconscious, corrupt behavior merely focusses on the problem instead of the solution.

I have found from personal experience that other people can be helpful in determining whether you are being authentic or not. By considering the thoughts of others who might have drastically different ideas from what you are used to, you gain a new perspective that makes it easier to question the validity of your own beliefs and worldview.  If you see your religion, philosophy or scientific paradigm as the absolute truth or if you see that your political party can do no wrong, you are keeping yourself imprisoned in a mindset that will keep you from understanding who you are.  After all, self-discovery is a never-ending process that deepens our understanding of that on-going mystery which is at the core of our being.  As we allow this process to unfold naturally, we effortlessly learn more about ourselves and become more authentic.

As a result, becoming more authentic is a gift to the universe by the universe which created us. Hence, acting authentically is our life’s purpose.  Because we are all connected in the deepest sense, to deny our life’s purpose denies the world of your gifts and results in the suffering of all to one degree or another.  This is why corruption is something that we naturally frown upon whenever we see it.  A few benefit from it at the expense of the many.  Corruption reveals an absence in the awareness that we are all connected and that our mere existence was designed to enhance all life in some way.  If this were not the case, how could you even be here reading this article?

It is one thing to identify corruption in yourself; it is another thing to actually transform the corrupt thinking and behavior into those which are authentic. Becoming authentic is not a trivial task.  It is often scary and it takes practice because we typically are replacing an old way of being with a new way.  Until the new way becomes second nature, the old habitual way of being can always return.  Therefore, if you are determined to be the authentic person you were born to be, you must undertake the moment-to-moment discipline to confront your fears that discourage you from making the change that you desire to make.

Corruption in the world begins and ends with you! If you do not acknowledge corruption in yourself and others, you encourage it everywhere.  So, continually ask yourself if you are being authentic in the moment.  If you are, great!  If not, what can you do to become authentic here and now?  The more of us that get in the habit of doing this regularly, the less we will witness corruption out in the world and the more we will enhance each other in our day-to-day living, thereby creating a world that works for us all!

A Letter to Democratic Superdelegates


This article is a letter that Vilma Reynoso and I composed to send to the superdelegates in our state that are either supporting Hillary Clinton or who are uncommitted.  We are publishing this letter on both of our blogs so that others who want to join us to help Bernie Sanders get the Democratic nomination for president have easy access to it. Please share this with others and feel free to copy all or part of the text of the letter below and edit it to make it appropriate for your state.  The contact information for each state’s superdelegates may be found at http://superdelegatelist.com/list.  We recommend sending snail mail letters over emails, but emails are certainly better than sending nothing.


June 27, 2016

[Superdelegate]:

We are Bernie Sanders supporters who are dismayed that you are considering supporting Hillary Clinton despite the fact that Colorado overwhelmingly voted in favor of Sanders. We question who you are representing with such a position because it obviously is not the people of Colorado!  We write this letter to ask you to align your vote with the people of Colorado at the Democratic National Convention and help make the Democratic Party a party of the people, once again.

Given that the National Convention in July will be contested and decided by the superdelegates, the Democratic Party would be wise to choose a candidate that has the highest favorability rating for the General Election. Bernie Sanders has consistently polled as the only candidate of either major party to have a positive favorability rating.  This is no doubt because he has nothing to hide and is perceived (rightly so) of being extremely honest.  Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has consistently polled with high unfavorability numbers that continue to increase (last we checked it was at 55%)!  This is due to her being perceived as untrustworthy due to her flip-flopping on issues and other negatives which will be mentioned shortly.  It is no wonder that Clinton and Trump ran neck and neck in the polls during the primary season, while Sanders soundly beats Trump in those same polls.  Granted, Clinton has opened up a double-digit lead in the latest polls, but that is due to Trump’s current self-implosion more than any other factor, which raises the question, will Trump be the Republican nominee?  We are not so convinced given the current momentum.  If the Republicans pick a more “reasonable” candidate, do you think Clinton will be able to win the presidency given the Republican’s historical hatred for her?  We doubt it (especially because of the reasons described below).  Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, consistently beat ALL of the Republican candidates in primary polls, so nominating him gives the Democrats a distinct edge no matter who the GOP ultimately chooses.  Therefore, do you want to take the chance of losing to the Republicans in November by nominating Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for the presidency?

In contrast to Hillary, look at Bernie’s drawing power. He has consistently had the largest crowds at campaign rallies of any candidate running for office.  His rallies typically fill arenas and auditoriums while Hillary’s rallies are lucky to fill a room.  Even Trump’s rallies are bigger than Clinton’s!  Yet, when you look at the end-of-primary delegate count, she has slightly more pledged delegates to the National Convention.  Does it not seem strange to you that a candidate that is clearly more popular has fewer delegates?  It does to us!  As it turns out, there is a simple explanation:  the primary process has been rigged against Bernie Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton from the very beginning.  Thanks to the Gucifer 2.0 DNC server hacking, the public now has documented proof of this, although it was obvious, even to the casual observer, that something was definitely askew in these primaries.  Part of the rigging was done with help from the mainstream media, which gave more favorable coverage to Clinton and less favorable (or no) coverage to Sanders.  Is it any surprise that most of the players in the mainstream media are big contributors to the Clinton campaign?

The main part of the rigging, though, was carried out by various election fraud techniques throughout the country, such as voter purging and computer “vote flipping” (documentation of the election fraud in each state can be found at https://electionfraud2016.wordpress.com).  As a result of these fraudulent actions, at least one lawsuit is being filed in federal court (see http://trustvote.org for more information).  Despite the system being rigged against Bernie Sanders, it is a testament to Sanders’ popularity that the delegate race is as close as it is!  Do you want to be on the wrong side of history supporting an illegitimate nominee, or do you have the integrity to vote for the real winner of the primary season, Bernie Sanders?

Another thing to consider in selecting a nominee to represent the party is who does a candidate represent? Unfortunately, most Democratic candidates these days (like their Republican counterparts) represent the interests of the wealthy because they typically contribute the most money to campaigns.  This is certainly true for Hillary Clinton.  All you have to do is look at her top donors during this campaign.  She also has indirect help from super PACs like Correct the Record.  As this past primary season demonstrated, there are more honest and effective means of raising campaign funds.  Bernie Sanders refused to have a super PAC and only accepts funds from individual people or unions.  How has he managed to raise so much money?  By addressing the issues that are important to the common people, not the wealthy, Sanders has been a breath of fresh air for many of us who are starving for a candidate who is interested in addressing the concerns of the masses.  Hence, it is no surprise that he is receiving so much financial support.  A large number of people each contributing a small amount of cash can add up to huge sums of money!  At the end of the day, Sanders’ principled approach to campaign financing makes him accountable to the people, not the corporations.  Any candidate who is beholden to wealthy interests over the interests of their own constituents is not worthy of our support.  Therefore, we refuse to vote for corrupt candidates, and we are not alone by a long shot!  Given the stark contrast between the two candidates for the nomination, whose side are you on?

While we are on the subject of corruption, one thing that should gravely concern superdelegates is that Hillary Clinton is under a criminal investigation by the FBI. Viewing the many news stories that have been published on this fact, it does not look good for Mrs. Clinton.  The question is not if but when will the FBI recommend indictment.  Given that the head of the FBI is a Republican, do you want to take the chance that he might help his party’s chance of winning the White House by recommending indictment of Hillary Clinton as an October surprise?  Do you think the public at large will be motivated to vote for someone who is under investigation for criminal acts?  Do you want to risk a constitutional crisis that will devastate the Democratic Party like Watergate did to the Republican Party?  If you care about winning in November, your best bet is to support the cleanest candidate, Bernie Sanders.

Yet another thing to be aware of in choosing a nominee is that there is great dissatisfaction (that crosses party lines) by the public toward the politicians that are supposed to represent them. We see this dissatisfaction in both the successes of Bernie Sanders AND Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton is not liked or trusted for many reasons – one being she represents the status quo of the establishment.  She is even endorsed by some in the Republican establishment!  What does that say about Clinton and her supporters in terms of what the Democratic Party stands for?  We can see Franklin Roosevelt spinning in his grave because today’s Democratic Party is way more conservative than the Democratic Party of seventy years ago!  Given this anti-establishment trend, Clinton cannot win if she runs against Trump.  Sanders, on the other hand, is more anti-establishment than Trump, and that is one reason why polls consistently show that Bernie can easily beat Trump.  To ignore this trend puts the Democratic Party in jeopardy of losing all of its races in the General Election in November.  Nominating Sanders will have just the opposite effect because most of his supporters (like most of Trump’s supporters) are tired of status-quo politics, where special interests are prioritized over the common interests of the people.  This dissatisfaction is what is responsible for the birth of the Bernie or Bust movement (of which we are members).  This faction of the Democratic Party is large enough that Hillary Clinton cannot win without its support.  Since “Bernie or Busters,” by definition, refuse to support her (Even if she chose Sanders as her Vice President!), the only way for the Democratic Party to win the White House will be to nominate Bernie Sanders.  The number of Clinton supporters who might be disgusted with the party for nominating Sanders would be miniscule when compared to the number of us Sanders supporters who would be lost due to a Clinton nomination.

In further weighing the factors discussed in this letter, it seems to us that a superdelegate would be wise to nominate the candidate who has consistently been on the right side of history for practically all his life not only because such a candidate is irresistible to the public at large (as Bernie has demonstrated countless times at his rallies), but also because such a candidate represents the future of both the Democratic Party and the country (given Sanders’ undeniable popularity with millennials). A party, like the Democrats, that wants to win the general election, needs to make an effort to not only maintain its base, but to grow with the needs and desires of the people they represent. The higher the voter turnout (assuming no election fraud is occurring) the more likely Democratic candidates are likely to win, as has been shown historically.  I would think this is what you as a representative of the Democratic Party would want and this is exactly what Bernie Sanders desires (unlike Hillary Clinton and the establishment crowd who seems to want to keep the Democratic Party an exclusive club).  As we write this, it is troubling to us that the party seems unwilling to consider the future generation in its platform.  Given what was voted upon in St. Louis during the final weekend in June, the corporate status quo prevailed with only a few concessions to the people.

Why would you want to resist giving the future generations the best that this generation has to offer? Do you not care about our future? Do you not care about your grandchildren and their future? Is your support for Clinton just to preserve your position of privilege and power?  If so, your decision will lead to not only further losses by Democrats, but also further destruction of society as the rich get richer and the poor (and middle class) get poorer.  If your motivation is for short-sighted selfish reasons, then we will see this in how you vote, and rest assured, you will have proven yourself to be a detriment to the greater good.  As such, we will not vote for you in future elections or do business with you.  We will discourage others from voting for you and doing business with you, as well.

Do not sacrifice our future for short-term personal gain. You have the opportunity to play a profoundly constructive role in the future of the Democratic Party and the United States!  Please vote for Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention in order to strengthen the party and make it a thriving party of the people, for the people, and by the people!

Sincerely,

Peter Roth, Precinct 325 Sanders Delegate to the Douglas County Convention

Vilma Reynoso, Parker, Colorado