This I Believe

Gregory - Rose Hill, Kansas
Entered on November 15, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

Beliefs Obfuscate Knowledge

While I was in 5th grade, the 2000 Florida Presidential election debacle was the focus of all the news media and of most Americans. Although I was only ten years old at the time, even I was not isolated from the coverage of the election and the ensuing battle for and against a vote recount. One day during the controversy, my teacher began a discussion on whether or not the recount should take place. A classmate answered by first asking a question: “Who will win if the votes are recounted?” When told that Gore would take Florida and thus the presidency, he firmly responded that a recount should not take place.

Although certainly not as obvious as the fallacy of logic my fellow classmate held, to a very real extent a similar behavior was and still is evident in even the most respected and powerful of our nation. After all, Florida’s recount never did occur, and many of those who successfully blocked the endeavor were supporters of George Bush. I find it difficult to believe that those people would have opposed the recount had Bush been several thousand votes short of winning Florida, and to be fair, neither would I have expected the Gore camp to support a recount in such a situation. When a political, religious, or otherwise significant belief is allowed to take such control over a situation, the results are often destructive and unnecessary. Throughout history, beliefs have been the cause of violence, aggression, oppression, and genocide. One only has to look to the radical and racist beliefs of Adolf Hitler to observe the consequences of uncompromising power and authority. While the pursuit of knowledge leads to understanding, the justification of belief is a destructive force capable of far more harm than good.

I believe that beliefs obfuscate knowledge. While something of a paradox, this statement embodies the personal philosophy that I live by. Humankind has the opportunity to decipher the world and discover the facts about it and ourselves. Abandoning these abilities for the sake of being headstrong in the face of reason and logic seems to undermine our talent for deduction. So while the great issues of the day should be analyzed, discussed, and dissected, ultimately no progress can be achieved when all our efforts are intended for the sole purpose of bolstering our beliefs. Beyond simply believing, it is necessary to justify and know.