I have been working in a garden from time to time at one of my part-time jobs this year. And in spite of my ripe old age I have actually learned a little in the process. I learned that cotton has a beautiful bloom, as does okra, artichoke, and even peanuts (to name just a few).
In fact, just a few days ago I came to a conclusion that astounded me [NOTE : I am still in the first grade when it comes to gardening]. I had always thought that flowers flowered, and vegetables vegetabled (or some such creative word), but now I know that . . . [wait for it] . . .
Vegetables flower, too, just like flowers flower; and their blooms are beautiful!
Maybe you’ve never had a revelation like that in your life. You know, something that probably everybody else knows – except YOU.
Have you ever listened to other people discussing a subject and find yourself thinking, “I must have missed that year in school”? As I mentioned in a previous post, I was in my 50s before I learned how to correctly set the side mirrors in my car.
I have always assumed that government agencies like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), etc., all functioned with the same basic approach to approve products in the U.S.A., i.e. exhaustive and strict testing is done before a product is made available to American consumers. And I have been glad that our country scrutinizes first before allowing anything that could endanger potential customers.
But I was wrong.
I learned just this week that the EPA operates under a very different standard than the FDA, i.e. a product is innocent until proven guilty (employing a common legal notion of ours). This has allowed the American Chemical Council to protect large chemical corporations from environmentalists who find numberless everyday products on our grocery and drug store shelves to be dangerous to consumers. The chemical lobbyists are a formidable force, and the almighty dollar once again reigns supreme. Even in the good old U.S.A.
But then, everybody knows this, right?
Just a few weeks ago I learned that Prohibition was not just about righteous indignation over the pervasive ill effects of alcohol in our society in 1920; rather, it was, in part, a power ploy by none other than John D. Rockefeller to defeat Henry Ford and his ethanol using Model T Ford.
As a boy I was taught the cause of the Civil War had to do with the moral question of slavery, and that Abraham Lincoln was a champion for the equality of the negro race. Since that time I have come to understand that Lincoln (whom I admire greatly) was influenced by a number of political expediencies when he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation (which became official in January 1863). And that things are not always as cut-and-dried as they may first appear.
Everybody knows this, right?
As a professor in graduate school shared with me years ago, R.D. Laing wrote in Knots:
“There is something I don’t know that I am supposed to know.
I don’t know what it is I don’t know and yet am supposed to know,
and I feel I look stupid if I seem both not to know it and not know what it is I don’t
Therefore I pretend I know it. This is nerve-racking since I don’t know what I must
pretend to know. Therefore I pretend I know everything.
I feel you know what I am supposed to know but you can’t tell me what it is because
you don’t know that I don’t know what it is.
You may know what I don’t know, but now I don’t know it, and I can’t tell you. So you
will have to tell me everything.”
We are all lifelong learners, you and I. And if we keep our eyes and hearts open there are countless discoveries ahead of us, some are even life changing, “game changers” (in today’s vernacular).
Doubtless there will be times when you think to yourself, “Everybody knows this but ME.” But no matter! Everyone else is in the same proverbial boat, alternately taking in water, then sailing ahead with the wind at his/her back.
The trick (if it really is a trick) is to refuse to pretend.