Mr. Babcock, knowledge is power!

In the 1958 film, Auntie Mame, played by Rosalind Russell, one of my favorite stars from that period, declares to the boorish banker, “Mr. Babcock, knowledge is power!” This in defense of her young nephew, Patrick Dennis, who is preparing said banker the perfect martini and states that he haauntie-mames learned to “stir, never shake, bruises the gin…” and that “Auntie Mame says olives take up too much room in such a little glass.”  Mr. Babcock considers it inappropriate for little Patrick to have such knowledge. Ahhh, knowledge – who has it, who wants it, who is being denied access to it, who shapes and molds it? It comes in so many shapes, sizes, contours, and forms. Knowledge can be expansive or narrow, hard and set or fluid and malleable. For some it might be how to scale the tallest mountain in the world, while others would be content to “know” how to bake a cake or drive a car with a manual transmission, clutch and all. I almost want to talk about “fake” knowledge – but I think I will leave that for another post… Likewise, don’t get this blog post title confused with the original sin of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a side note, knowledge and truth are not the same and philosophers, pragmatists and other deep thinkers have argued since the beginning of time about the definitions, similarities and differences of these two terms.

Knowledge has always been my nectar of life, my source, my rock. Knowing has been my defense, my offense, the solid foundation upon which I stand with steadfast and utter righteousness. Starting with the letter, “A”, my young mind, thirsting for knowledge, voraciously consumed the encyclopedia set bought one by one with green stamps from the grocery store. I was fascinated by this source of knowledge and what I thought of as the absolute truth. I think I reached approximately the letter “K” before the green stamps ran out. The set was never purchased in its entirety so I was left with a giant hole in my knowledge base that starts with L and ends with Z. So don’t ask me about zebras or xylophones. The sheer vastness of it was overwhelming and exciting and this decades before the Internet was invented by Al Gore. I’ve never stopped wanting to know, know more, seek out knowing, and be knowledgable.

On the flipside, “not knowing” is my kryptonite, my nemesis, the stuff that causes me nightmares and anxiety, throws me off, makes me feel vulnerable and extremely uncomfortable. Faking it is not an option for me… In fact, acknowledging and being very transparent in situations where I find myself in a state of ” not knowing” is also a way of avoiding that sense of dread that I experience. However, I have also come to some self-realization that I am the last one to ever ask for directions (even when I’m lost) or make an inquiry about something that I clearly should know already… In other words, I fear that I build a lot of my self-worth, esteem, sense of self, and pride on knowing.

THE POINT: Knowledge opens doors. As Auntie Mame says to Patrick, “I’m going to open doors for you… doors you never even dreamed existed.” I am an example of how the unrelenting quest for knowledge has afforded me opportunities… opportunities I never even dreamed existed. In many ways, I believe knowing has allowed me to transform my poor, immigrant, non-English speaking youth into a solidly, dare I say, upper middle class professional life. Knowledge is power. And given I have spent my entire professional career in the Kindergarten to Grade 12 education space, this is what I hope and want for every young person who walks through those doors, the opportunity to develop an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. The love of learning cannot be legislated nor taken away from you by anyone. Once acquired it sustains you for the rest of your life. And it’s a good life.

About helvetius59

Lifelong learner, loyal friend, setting out to take over the world-- but only for the powers of good!
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6 Responses to Mr. Babcock, knowledge is power!

  1. Excellent writing Lude, just a few comments. I appreciate your quest of knowledge, and as your oldest brother, I am so very proud of your accomplishments and finishing your education to the highest level possible. For me, I am very appreciative that we have gotten closer as brothers during the latter years, unfortunately I can’t go back in time for the earlier years, wished I could. I am so excited that we are able to celebrate my 70th birthday together in Bali as we celebrated your 50th birthday there. I am blessed to have a brother like you Lude, may God continue to watch over you and grant you His wisdom throughout the rest of your life. Love you…

  2. Your writing is really good Lude, Louise loves writing too, lots of talents in our family and extensions. We are very excited and ready for our trip, although Louise has a quilt show to do, flying out Monday September 17, returning September 24, has 1 night and 1 day to get ready since our flight departs September 26 @ 1:20 AM to Bangkok, arrives September 27 @ 10:50 AM, 4 nights in BK, 3 nights Phuket and 1 night back in BK, October 5 Bangkok to Denpasar…

  3. rene vanbroekhuizen says:

    I remember the encyclopedia britannica (or was it a knock off version). I thought the grocery store gave you the first one and then they had you on the hook for the rest, oh the late 60’s early 70’s were great. You read and retained the information and I think I just looked at the pictures. It tells the story about us..no? I love reading your blogs Lude, and they usually have very relatable stories. Keep’m coming, see you in Socal!!

  4. In an atmosphere of bluffing and bravado, it’s refreshing when an intellectual refuses to peddle fake knowledge just for the sake of appearing wise. Great post!

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