Friday, October 30, 2009

Oh, Honestly

"I was gratified to be able to answer promptly. I said I don't know." --Mark Twain

It seems we live in a world where we feel we must know everything. Yes, we do live in the age of the Internet, Google, and the like. Yes, we do live in the age of podcasts, downloads, and automatic updates. In this setting, though, it is my claim that we miss the mark. Many are devastated at the fact of not being able to answer a question. Others probably could but do nothing about it. Still, others speak as if they know when they clearly do not.

Go with me to a house full of young adult males. Heck, come to my apartment. We have six of them between the ages of 20-24 barring any 30 year old outliers. Case in point: I was watching a basketball game the other night. My favorite team was playing. By favorite I mean FAVORITE. They are a team I have followed all my life. I have some knowledge about their history. However, they were losing the game. One of my roommates saw this. He quickly said, "This team (referring to my favorite team) sucks!"

He continued, "They don't have any good players and their coach is a fossil!"

I remained calm. I promise. I simply replied telling him that they have some of the NBA's top players and that the coach has one of the highest winning percentages in history--all with the same team. The conversation ended.

A second experience occurred the next day with the same roommate. He is exploring different education options. In his quest, he was asking me all kinds of things about Master degree programs, grad schools, and career possibilities in business. I did the best I could and answered him according to what I knew in the midst of my current undergrad status. My reply to the last three or four of his inquiries, however, was, "I don't know." His reply to this surprised me a little. He simply said, "Thanks for being honest instead of giving me some bull-crap answer."

I appreciated this remark because it taught me a lesson. The lesson is three-fold. First, if you don't know something, don't be afraid to admit it. Second, if you don't know something, go and find out about it! Third, if you don't know something, don't pretend that you do. There is no shame in saying, "I don't know."

Thus, in an information frenzied society we don't have to know it all. What would there be to learn if we did? Further, if we try to sound like we do, we will, indeed, be as a "sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal" ever talking but never really saying anything (see 1 Cor 13:1, 2 Tim 3:7). Words, words, words.

In short, share what you know if others are seeking it; confess what you don't know. What is your take on it? Because I don't know.


cskelton said...


Tami said...

I'm pretty sure I know what basketball team you were referring to *grin*.

Great read. Thanks for sharing! Now go to bed LOL I love you!!