My wife and I were working with our computers this morning, trying to synchronize some file sharing, exploring the best way to communicate with each other through the “magic boxes.” (It’s an activity that still feels very strange when we are sitting together in the same room, talking face-to-face.) She was describing to me a process which one of our daughters had used in her file-sharing process, a sequence of actions which was totally alien to me. Actually, there’s a great deal of computer use and savvy that completely escapes me, and I am quick to admit it to my wife, my daughter and any technical help person I might encounter over the phone when I’m stuck. Becoming smarter about computers requires that I don’t pretend that I know more than I do and that I admit what I don’t know. It’s called learning.
None of us has a corner on the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We are all possessed of a unique combination of skills, knowledge, experiences and perspectives which make us singular resources on any subject. (If you doubt the voracity of that idea, simply ask a group of people about, for example, the most important means to a long and happy life.) But the answers to difficult questions are not vested in all of us; some of us simply know more or less about certain things. It’s why we need each other.
Too often, we believe that we know all that we must. Self-reliance is a good thing, but self-deception is not. It’s a dangerous place to be. For if we acknowledge the fact that no one has a perfect understanding of all things, then we necessarily embrace the reality that we could be wrong on any given issue, and that someone else might well see the matter with a clearer perspective. As begrudging as it may feel, we might be wrong. Acknowledging it, admitting it, is not a symptom of weakness, but rather a sign of self-confidence in learning. And there is never anything impotent in that. Impotence lies in the false posturing that is fostered by ignorance, or an unwillingness to accept wisdom from someone else.
I’m occasionally asked whether our partners in Nicaragua are grateful for the partnering with Winds of Peace. The answer is yes, they understand its importance and impact, of course. But the more complete answer is that the learning experienced by those of us who interact with Nicaraguans, both rural and city, is at least as great as the value of what WPF brings to the partnership. There’s a lot that I don’t know about Nicaragua. My acquaintances there are just the ones to help me with that. Who better?
The world is a big and diverse place. Facing our own shortcomings about what we know versus what we think we know is both a curse and a blessing. It’s tough to admit that we aren’t omniscient and in control. But it’s a gift to recognize that fact as the starting point for seeking out the truth. Likely, I’ll never know everything about my computer….
1 thought on “There’s A Lot I Don’t Know About Computers”
Terrific writing on the topic of learning and humility. As a man more accustomed to the 80’s, advanced technology has in fact been a serious struggle of mine embarking into the 21st century. More recently, finding myself unemployed with an ambitious desire to acquire the “job of my dreams,” I had the rude awaking that the competitive edge of job search and resume up-keep has left me light years behind, being one who’s more accustomed/comfortable seeking a job in person. When I went to the Work Force Center to learn what’s needed to be competitive with on-line applications and resumes, I found myself terribly discouraged and experienced anxiety, and fear as I was being led into a world of entirely new information. The fear I felt was very similar to the fear I experienced learning algebra while working on my undergraduate degree. I honestly felt that I was entirely left in the hands of other peoples knowledge. The self-confidence that I had experienced most of my life suddenly vanished, as I fund myself at the mercy of the un-known, change, growth, and development. Each time I left the Work Force Center I would return home feeling somewhat inadequate but at the same time proud. The reason for the inadequate feeling stemmed from the obvious deception that led me most of my life, convincing me that I was “the man” and had all the right answers to this life through my irreproachable gift of wisdom and insight. My hubris was deflated! However, I felt proud because I recognized the need for humility and the dire need for community which enables others to impart knowledge where my own knowledge was bankrupt. I was also proud of the fact that, although I felt fear and trepidation, I was still eager to engage the unknown with the hope of obtaining results that would override future fear in the same area of learning. I may have obtained this knowledge somewhat later then others, but I’m grateful to God that I’m compelled and inspired by the phrase “it’s never to late!” I’m also proud to concede that I need help in many areas of life, and that I’m not an Island unto myself. For some strange reason, I found liberation in what would otherwise have felt like defeat; I found the power of humility, rather then the perpetuation of ignorance; I found grace in other peoples willingness to help instead of judgment and derision. Ultimately, I found that you don’t have to be “the-man” bobbing and weaving through life as if you know everything, but its much better to simply be “a man” who’s able to differentiate and be objective. Today, I’m truly grateful for phobos because fear can inspire one to embrace the journey or to give up. I realized a long time ago that giving up is not an option to be trifled with. Thank you Mr. Sheppard for such an outstanding peace of truth. I sincerely hope others will be inspired to break down walls of fear and pride which leaves absolutely no room for common ground. I needed this today; it proved to be a healthy reminder that I’m still on the right path! Peace be with you.