Is Knowledge Really Everything?

I remember reading a short story during Freshman year, called Flowers for Algernon.  (I might reread it, since I forgot most of what happened).  It was about a mentally challenged man, named Charlie, who worked as a janitor in a factory.  He became the subject of a series of experiments, to see if it was possible to make him more intelligent.  A former experiment was done with a lab rat named Algernon, and it seemed to be working.

Charlie started off with a low IQ of 68.  With the surgical techniques, his intelligence tripled.  It was sad though.  He figured out that his coworkers had been manipulating and making fun of him when he had special needs. Although he became smarter, he also became less happy.  As we read the story in class, my teacher asked us if we would rather have been the happy Charlie or the intelligent Charlie.  The happy Charlie had no idea of what the “real world” was like, just living his days, but again, he was happy. His IQ shot up so high as he his procedures got longer.  So I thought about that, as a little Freshman in high school.  I thought that having his insane knowledge would be better.  He could have been a millionaire, with his mental ability.  Why wouldn’t you want to be smarter, right? But knowledge comes with a price.  For Charlie’s point-of-view, it turned bad.  He became too smart, that it was hard to communicate with the “average” people he was around with.

{It ended up that the rat, Algernon, was declining in his mental abilities, just as Charlie got smarter.  He noticed this and figured that he, too, would soon be like the rat.  Eventually, Algernon died and Charlie dropped down to his normal IQ level again. (There is more to the story, and I suggest reading it).}

Even if Charlie did stay as “smart” as he was, would it have been better than being clueless but happy? Now that I think of it again, I start to wonder.  Of course, knowledge is very important to me.  I think that it is one of the greatest gifts that is given to us in this world. Humans are curious.  We want to know things.  I’m going to school, not only for a career, but also to have more knowledge of the medical field.  I think it is something that I can use to help others out.

However, I think back to the very young me. I was like Charlie in a way.  My head was full of wonder, but I didn’t know much.  The world seemed perfect to my eyes.  I never had a real bad day, I think, until I turned 13.  It was then when people started telling me “facts” about the “real world.” Bad things happen, they say. That’s just life.

That is true to a certain extent.  But what if I didn’t know everything that I know now? I’ve seen and known how awful the world is.  So would it be better if I was happy and didn’t know anything?

Maybe I’m more in the middle now.  I think knowledge isn’t everything. Happiness is more important.  We should use our knowledge smarter, to make us happier.

If you have it, might as well use it for the better, right?

Categories: Psychology | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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