Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Knowing and Doing

An ancient Greek philosopher insisted that to know what is right is to do it.  I’ve always thought this to be true, but it has not been my personal experience.  If we could but know what is true and right, and if we could help others know what is true and right, then the social chaos that permeates our world could be resolved.  If we could but get at the facts, then it would inevitably follow that our attitudes would change. This idea suggests that we behave as we do because we are ignorant of the facts.  Is that really true?

Education (an increase in knowledge and in facts) can make a difference, or so we have assumed.  But, alas, this assumption that to know is to do is only a half truth.  Human nature is not moved to do on the basis of fact alone.  Something else is needed.  I may know the facts, but facts alone do not arouse my will to do anything about them.  Facts may not stir my conscience.  Information may not charge my spirit with sensitivity, concern, and emotion.  Without an emotional response or connection to the facts, my attitude is not affected and the world is not changed.

This dilemma plagued the spirit of the Apostle Paul, “…for what I do is not what I want to do, but what I detest…though the will to do good is there, the deed is not” (Romans 7:15ff, NEB).  It takes more than knowing, more than “just the facts” to actually do what is right. We have to care!

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