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Knowledge Is Knowledge, Not Power

"Knowledge is power." --Sir Francis BaconIn Sir Francis Bacon's day, that quote may have been nearer the truth than today. Any little bit of knowledge gave a man or woman an edge and perhaps the power...

"Knowledge is power." --Sir Francis BaconIn Sir Francis Bacon's day, that quote may have been nearer the truth than today. Any little bit of knowledge gave a man or woman an edge and perhaps the power to move higher in the intellectual or physical food chain.

Admittedly, even in today's intricate world, the right knowledge places a person in a better position to survive physically, emotionally, mentally, fiscally, and common sensically. I don't know if the last one's real, I just typed it. "Stet" as the editors say.

However, no matter how much knowledge an individual possesses, it is the use, the application of the knowledge which provides the power. A blackmailer potentially has power over the victim because of the knowledge he or she possesses about the victim. If contact is not made with the victim, and the threat communicated to them, the blackmailer might as well be as powerless as if they possessed nothing at all.

Knowledge is a tool. A hammer is a tool. In my garage are three hammers: a claw hammer, a ball peen hammer, and a two pound sledge. There they sit. They are fine hammers, and each has specific tasks for which it was designed and for which I bought it. I've had one a year, one about five years, and the claw hammer since my days on a construction crew back in 1963. I know how to use each and every one of them effectively and have used them often, but, despite their value as tools and my ability as a user of these tools they are useless lumps until I pick them up and put them to the task. There is also a maul which can be used as a hammer, but I don't want to be around to observe the consequences of that misuse of a tool.

I have to be careful, by the way, as my wife has publicly avowed that all tools are ultimately hammers, so if I send her to the garage for a "hammer" there's no telling what she might return with. This brings up another point. One person's "tool" or "knowledge" may be another's liability or catastrophe in the making. As much as I love her, my wife is dangerous with tools, sharp objects, or things that can catch on fire. Were she to attempt to learn how to wield a hammer, there's no telling how much damage might be done, and Thor would hopefully swoop down from Asgard to wrest it from her hands before the course of the universe was changed and his image tarnished forever.

On the other hand, give my wife a spreadsheet program on a computer, or just a sheet of paper, and a mass of data about what is happening in other countries and financial markets around the world she can give you a pretty accurate prediction of what is going to happen in the Forex market. That's why in our house, she is the investor, and I am the guy who uses tools for esoteric purposes that she equates with magic. As far as I am concerned, and remember, I am a trained accountant, what she DOES with the facts and figures on her computer are something that I would expect Harry Potter to be dabbling in. I wonder if she went to Hogwarts?It is not merely the possession of knowledge that makes for power. Yearly, our schools churn out bright young creatures burdened with knowledge they do not fully understand. Many feel that they have power because of this knowledge. In time, perhaps they will add enough wisdom to the knowledge to allow them to create power...hopefully for the good of their fellow men and women. In the meantime, they will continually bump their delicate psyches against the hard realities of the world until when, and if, they learn how to use the knowledge at their disposal to produce power. This, by the way, is what one of my old bosses, Cecil Bray, Assistant Comptroller of a testing lab at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, called "getting the corners knocked off".

Actually, once you have gotten your corners knocked off, it may be a little easier to fit in some previously unobtainable holes where knowledge can be gained, refined, and brought into focus. Maybe that's really a slightly better formula. Instead of Knowledge = Power, perhaps Knowledge + Polishing + Plugging In = Power. AnywayFree Reprint Articles, that's how power works in my house. Plug it in. Turn it on.

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Donovan Baldwin is a Dallas area writer. He is a University of West Florida alumnus, a member of Mensa, and is retired from the U. S. Army. He is the owner of He has a blog on writing and poetry at

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