Kodwo Baidoo writes: Monday Epistles, Season 3, Episode 5. The Burden of Knowledge (A Friendly Foe)

Kodwo Baidoo writes: Monday Epistles, Season 3, Episode 5. The Burden of Knowledge (A Friendly Foe)


At the apogee of the Hill that roots my house, the hills of Redtop lay charcoal under the sallow moon, with feeble rays struggling to shine through the broken layer of clouds due to the landscape’s proximity to the sea. On each peak is a fortress overlooking the valley below, each no more than a barely discernible silhouette against the beautiful sky. In the valleys are the dwellings of demarcated plots of land bellying heaps of sand and chippings as well as some deserted greens begging for irrigation. Between the West Hills Mall and the gates of my house is an eventful journey through a winding stretch of road with mounds of dust and rocks that make driving up to the Hills quite torturous.

Typically on Sundays, I usually would stay in my kitchen after checking out the nooks and crannies of my apartment. In the kitchen, I will fix myself a mug of warm water and lemon juice and sip while enjoying a peculiar view. My kitchen windows oversee two squatter families who stay on the parcel of land behind my house. Watching them freely go about their activities, adds a fascinating flavor to my morning tonic. The children play happily in the dirt, the mothers cook in the open and shower in some improvised bathhouse and the men sit around watching over the executions of their family with pride and joy. They only go into their cubicles to sleep.

During calendar holidays, I invite them into my apartment to share my blessings with them-usually giving them food, drinks and the clothes I receive from donors. Encounter after encounter with these illiterate but obviously very happy families, I have come to realize that the burden of knowledge can actually be a destructive luxury. Sometimes we are better off not knowing things. This aphorism is unremarkable when understood as an observation about our everyday lives. We are happier, indeed better off by many measures, if ignorant. Ignorance prevents us from anticipating the consequences of our actions while knowledge hands us with the power to predict and exploit. So it would be right to suggest that more knowledge is better. But despite the numerous advantages of new knowledge, ignorance is sometimes preferable because it protects us from unpleasant realities, keep us from facing difficult choices and most importantly immunizes us against attacks by others.

As our society becomes increasingly dependent on information and actually saturated with it, and more so as we become better predictors of our future-assuming to know everybody else’s next move, we are confronted more frequently with the dilemma of knowledge. More and more relationships are being ruined today because of the burden of knowledge. Today, prolly because of a book titled “Seven Signs Your Partner Is Cheating”, a woman thinks she knows more about her partner than her realities and will spend time fashioning out plans on how to react when her man exhibits any of those signs as captured in the book. People in authority and with powers are seeking for better ways to tighten up codes of conduct and more effective ways of sanctioning employees because of the illusion of knowledge that it is in these stringent measures that the employee will give off their best. Whatever happened to motivation and encouragement?

We have all become slaves to the burden of knowledge. Family ties and values are fast eroding because we are growing more selfishly knowledgeable and thus acting in such manners that leave burrows behind instead of footprints. Knowledge restrains us from performing desirable conducts either because we are thinking that the desired conduct is harmful or because we are thinking that people will infer that our conduct was undertaken on the account of a certain knowledge(alibi). Besides affecting the way we behave, knowing too much can actually alter our self regard and make us appear a different kind of person-perhaps one more vulnerable or less adaptable to change. It used to be the case that “for the lack of knowledge”, people perished. Today, sadly however, celebrated knowledgeable preachers and authors of “7 Keys To Successful Management”, are complicit in cases of incompetence and stated misbehaviour and have collapsed banks and institutions with all their abundant knowledge.

Ignorance is not only bliss, it’s a form of self preservation. It is a way your current self can enjoy the now and present without having to bother too much about predictions of your future distinct self. What you don’t know, doesn’t hurt or harm you!

Shalom! 🙏