Knowledge is Power

The more we know about the world around us, the more independent we can be

Do you know how most of the things you use on a daily basis work? Do you know how to fix them when they break?

More often than not, my guess is the answer is: no. And most of us won't even care, because we are abled the luxury to simply replace our defect items. But this comes at a price: dependence.

When me and my partner couldn't take a warm shower during a week in winter because our boiler broke (and the landlord decided to replace it with a new model), it hit us how dependent we were. It was out of our control, given our circumstances. It also hit us how much of a simple warm shower is a luxury we take for granted.

Gone seem to be the days of our ancestors, when if something broke you or someone in your household fixed it themselves. Unless you had to wait for parts, I guess.

We tend to look back on it and see it only as a necessity when they couldn't afford to buy as much as we can now. But maybe that's because consumerism is so pervasive these days, that we can't even see things from a different angle. Consumerism is a very wasteful practice, but it's easy for us to forget about it in our day to day lives because it is convenient and for some of us how we've always done things.

The commodity of consumerism has allowed us to forget and dismiss knowledge and the creativity of how to be independent.

Today I find myself dependent on manufacturers, so called experts and professionals. Not even dependent on people or community, but on a wasteful and impersonal system run by numbers.

Knowledge is a powerful tool, which should be shared.

When knowledge is used wisely, it can be put to the service of all of us and heighten our collective well being. Although, our story so far has been shaped by an unwise application, hoarding information, keeping it secret and letting only a few benefit at the expense of others. Which is clearly visible in our current capitalist system.

But I believe that is something we, as humanity, are already leaving behind us. I believe we are embracing an era of shared knowledge. We have a huge network of open source software and whatnot these days to back this up.

When we learn to do something ourselves, we take back a little of our freedom. We empower ourselves. When we learn about the world around us, we gain the power of knowledge and the ability to act according to our believes, we are no longer ignorant. We are empowered, for we know we have an impact on our surroundings.

Do you know what the story behind your things is?

Do you ever wonder how your things are made? Where they came from? Who made them? Under what conditions? How they made their way to where you bought them from? What happens to them once you throw them away? Where does it go? What happens to it? And how does that impact your world?

I'll be honest, I don't know the answer to most of these questions myself. But I'm learning. I'm learning and I'm starting to make decisions based on that information. Ignorance no longer feels like an option for me.

Back to our cold showers, on that winter week, we turned to the internet and got crafty: we put together a DIY camping shower, where we poured some cold and boiled some water on a tea kettle. Sure it wasn't perfect, but we took back a little piece of ourselves.

Published: July 27, 2016