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Student Newsroom: Knowledge Isn't Power

By Breanna Wilson

March 2, 2022

At some point in our lives, we’ve all heard the phrase, “knowledge is power.” Perhaps you’ve seen it plastered on a cheesy motivational poster in the library or were lectured with this Sir Francis Bacon quote by your parents desperately trying to make you finish your homework. This implies that more intelligent people are more successful, have more control over their lives and the world around them. However, I’ve concluded that this belief is intrinsically flawed, or, at the very least, misunderstood.

“Seriously, when am I ever going to need to know how to find the imaginary roots of this quadratic equation?” You’ve inevitably heard a phrase like this escape the mouth of a high school student and have probably said the same thing yourself at some point in your life. I think this perfectly demonstrates the point I am trying to make, knowledge is only power if you apply it. In other words, knowledge is potential power.

What good does reading a book about gardening do if you never go outside and plant a garden? Why watch a motivational video if you don’t take the advice?

In our society, we are served a feast of information on a daily basis. With the internet, the wisdom we have access to is conceivably limitless, a bottomless ocean of knowledge enticing the curiosity within us. As someone who is passionate about learning, having the ability to ask any question or research any topic, satisfying my thirst for answers and understanding almost instantly, is something I see as a precious asset.

However, it is much easier to consume information than to utilize it. It’s less demanding to watch videos about changing your life, waking up earlier, eating healthier, exercising more, than to implement it. It’s less strenuous to read a book about starting a business than to actually do it.

Our brains are hard-wired to prefer taking the path of least resistance. In other words, anything we perceive as more challenging is less appealing. Imagine two mountains in the distance, which you must travel across to reach your destination. Rather than picking one and climbing over it, you are probably going to walk between them. This is obviously more logical, requiring less time and energy to do, which is why this mode of thinking is advantageous. On the other hand, it also makes us less likely to take action for things we don’t deem absolutely necessary to our survival, causing the majority of people to never reach their full potential.

This is where the phrase, “if it were easy, everyone would do it,” comes from. Merely possessing the knowledge to make a significant impact on the world doesn’t grant you the ambition and determination to do so. What separates the mediocre from the exceptional is the devotion, the passion, the potential to transform knowledge into power. In the end, what makes a person powerful isn’t the knowledge they possess, but the effort they are willing to invest to make something out of it.