Knowledge Is Power: A Timeless Concept

1140 words - 5 pages

Knowledge is power. This concept has survived generation after generation because of the timeless truth behind it. In his autobiographical novel My Bondage My Freedom, Frederick Douglas wrote about his realization of the power that knowledge brings. He disclosed an intimate account of his experiences and thoughts surrounding the atrocious acts permeating the practice of slavery. As a slave, Douglas did not experience power in the stereotypical positional sense. He did, however, experience increased power gained from knowledge in other ways. Douglas knew how to behave as a slave, and that knowledge allowed him the ability to make wise decisions that protected his life; although there were laws in place to protect slaves against unjust treatment, these laws were “utterly incapable of being enforced” (Douglas 127). The role of a slave was to obey without question and to not even think about questioning his master. Douglas watched and had interactions with the powerful men and women in his life that demonstrated that knowledge was power. Douglas realized that knowledge was power in relation to his journey from slavery to freedom; the concept that knowledge is power is timeless and can be applied on an individual, social, and innovative level.
Power is a byproduct of an individual gaining knowledge. One can acquire an abundant amount of knowledge throughout his college years for example, and not realize the amount of power he has stored within himself. The subject matter does not disqualify the existence of power as a byproduct; all of the thoughts and decisions of a person are directly powered by the knowledge he has subjected himself to. Douglas chose to live in a submissive manner towards his master because of the knowledge gained from observation and peer-teaching; he was empowered to choose to avoid the consequences of insubordination. Douglas could have chosen the alternative course of action and stood up for his humanity, but even still, he would have been empowered by his knowledge. One can choose to make a seemingly unwise decision with varying motivations even with knowledge of the consequences. An individual is constantly acquiring knowledge through observations, teachings, and life experiences. The plethora of knowledge does not disappear, but instead, it shapes the choices that the individual makes about life. Diane Coutu in The Science of Thinking Smarter writes that when a person learns something it is because the wiring in the brain changes. The power is found in the ability to use the brains resource of knowledge to make a decision, form and opinion, or take a course of action.
Societies have power from knowledge shared among its constituents. For instance, a society that educates its members about cultural differences between people groups will be empowered to understand differences, and thus, live more peacefully. A society living near a coastal area will be empowered to survive and minimize damage if they...

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