“Knowledge is power. In agriculture, medicine and industry, for example, knowledge has liberated us from hunger, disease, ad tedious labour. Today, however, our knowledge has become so powerful that it is beyond our control. We know how to do many things, but we do not know where, when, or even whether this know-how should be used.”
Assignment: Can knowledge be a burden rather than a benefit?
We often hear the saying ‘knowledge is power’. We improve our quality of lives through the application of knowledge. It is true that sometimes knowledge comes with burden – we may not know how to apply it appropriately or make choices resulted from our use of knowledge. However, the resulted benefits from the use of knowledge can outweigh the associated burden or drawbacks as long as we can make good use of our knowledge to improve our lives.
One example is the advancement of technology. Since the industrial revolution, many new technologies have been developed such as vehicles, generation of electricity, Internet, and so on. We enjoy higher quality of lives as a result of those new advancements: we can travel to different places, communicate with friends from the other side of the Earth, engage in activities that were once impossible to do like sky diving and cure diseases that were fetal decades ago.
These advancements, which are the culmination of humans’ knowledge carry their own drawbacks. We need to consider Global Warming and energy crisis in order to develop sustainably; we need to use antibodies carefully so as to prevent the outburst of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These burdens which trouble people a lot do not exist in the past when we were not so knowledgeable. But compared to centuries ago when these technologies were just people’s dreams, we enjoy more diversified lifestyles. The extra burdens on people are considered to be worthy provided that we plan beforehand to deal with the potential drawbacks of technologies.
We can also consider a hypothetical situation in The Giver. In the world described in the book, people live peacefully with all the decisions already made for them. They do not have to worry about their future lives, but they have no knowledge of many experiences like being happy or sad, being healthy or sick, peace or war. They have no burden, but they cannot enjoy the ups and downs in their lives. Even the protagonist Jonas finds live to be more meaningful when people have the knowledge and experience. This illustrates the emptiness of live if we have no knowledge.
Every coin has two sides. Knowledge may pose burdens of people, but it also brings them many benefits. It is people’s choice to apply knowledge for their own good and enjoy better lives.
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