July 1, 2010

Scientia potentia est

is a Latin maxim "For also knowledge itself is power" stated originally by Ferdowsi, which in modern times is often paraphrased as "knowledge is power." -wiki
I have been thinking about this phrase a lot lately.  I think that the majority of the population of any country is primarily good, it wants to do good and when it is aware of evil it does something to stop it or at the very least slow it down. It does this regardless of what religious ideology they subscribe to and regardless of the ideologies of the oppressed.  It is then up to the oppressors to minimize the information the populace gets.  Without knowledge of the transgressions how can the masses respond?  they can't and therefore knowledge is indeed power.  

Committing mass genocide and atrocities is harder nowadays (not impossible but HARDER) with the advent of the Internet, blogs, forums, myspace, facebook, google groups, twitter, skype and so on. Now, depending on who you asked the "knowledge" that is power may be different.  To a observant Muslim that knowledge may indeed be Islamic in nature, to a Christian it will be Christian in nature, to a scientist it will be scientific reports, journals etc., to a political junkie it will be politics and current events.  I personally think its languages.  I think Islamic knowledge would benefit me in this life and in the hereafter but it basically just benefits me alone if I can't then use it to help others.  How can you help them if you cannot communicate?

Anyway, I am currently reading a couple of history books (because am a history junkie, remember the 2nd major anyone?) and I realized that I had forgotten the most important rule when reading history.  WHO ARE THE AUTHORS? and number two WHO IS THE PUBLISHER?  Based on those two you will have a clearer picture of what you should expect to read.  History is always written by the victor and therefore nearly always swayed positively on that side.  History is not what most of us think as undeniable facts but rather opinions written based on those facts to support the ideology of whoever is writing them.

I realize that most of our "news" outlets aren't really spreading news at all but rather whatever it is those in power want us to see. The BP oil spill for example, has anyone noticed that every time they talk about  the spill and its devastation the news clip that is used is of a clean up operation?  I have the clips MEMORIZED because of how many times I have seen it. If you believe the news the only victim of the oil spill is this poor pelican who is still alive but just crouched in the water letting the waves take him wherever they want.  Why is it that I have to go to youtube or through facebook videos to see the animals dying amidst the oil, the dolphins and whales with their blowhole covered in oil and the total devastation it is having on the gulf coast and on the environment. The reports are so sanitized because knowledge is power and if we were to see the  TRUE devastation, the mass retaliation against BP and its subsidiaries would be A LOT worst than they are now.

Over the last couple of months I realized that in order to get a clearer view of my world I have to read news reports both from the US and abroad.  I noticed that the news reports coming out of Latin America are way more candid than those here.  I am glad I can understand Spanish otherwise I would be screwed.  Imagine if I understood Greek? Japanese? Malay? Indonesian? I wonder what they are saying or are they just as sanitized?

I also understand that ALL news is biased which is why if you do know other languages you can at least compare what you are getting and see where they differ and why.  Because they will differ and this way you can be informed and be empowered.  

to be continued...

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