KMbeing

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

Knowledge & Perspective: A Take On Homophobia

Today, I want to write about knowledge and perspective – how we look at our own knowledge and the knowledge of others in the world around us. Putting things in perspective – particularly knowledge – is one of the most important elements that can help all of us live life more fully and make the world a better place for everyone. The value of knowledge on this planet is not necessarily determined by the way we acquire knowledge (by a higher education degree or by life experience), but by how we perceive knowledge. Far too often we value the former over the later.

Knowledge is acquired each day in many ways.  Gaining knowledge happens all day, every day with all of our interactions with other people. It’s inevitable that someone, some time, is going to share knowledge that we disagree with or that perhaps hurts us in some way.  Some knowledge claims are going to occur that make it seem like the world is never going to change for the better.  But the important thing about that, of course, is how we perceive the diversity of knowledge in this world – how we value this diversity of knowledge to ultimately combine this knowledge to make the world a better place. It’s all about understanding knowledge and perspective.

Take for example a recent viral video of Jane Svoboda, a woman from Nebraska, USA who makes some rather strong claims against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

From my knowledge perspective I consider her claims to be extremely homophobic (as do many others). But from her knowledge perspective she stands by her convictions (while others laugh) to share her knowledge claims. Is she crazy (as many claim) or just in need of further knowledge? (I later found out that this woman does have mental health issues). Again, it’s all about perspective. Can we still learn from this so-called knowledge? Yes. But do we just leave it there? No – because knowledge to make the world a better place requires action. Yet action that is respectful of others and open to dialogue with others. Creating valuable knowledge to make the world a better place is about combining the diversity of knowledge in this world through action. Knowledge without shared action is useless.

Although I strongly disagree with this woman’s homophobic knowledge claims (some people may claim this isn’t even knowledge), I was extremely impressed with the diplomatic and organized manner in which she was allowed to speak in such a procedural context. It’s always the first step in sharing knowledge to make the world a better place – even though it’s knowledge that we disagree with or perhaps hurts us in some way.

But sharing knowledge is not just a one way street. I would hope that this woman would also be deeply open to listening to the knowledge of others. This is the next step in sharing knowledge to make the world a better place. Being open to dialogue and learning from the diversity of knowledge around us changes our knowledge for social benefit for everyone – and ultimately makes the world a better place for everyone. Knowledge has many perspectives. Combining these perspectives and knowledge is what matters.

So perhaps, instead of laughing at or deriding someone else’s knowledge claims (even though we strongly feel compelled to do so), if we saw this as an opportunity to begin to share knowledge – by combining our knowledge – to make the world a better place for all of us, we might begin to make a difference.

If we take the world and its diversity of knowledge without further action by sharing our knowledge, we will only see the hurt and hate in the world around us. If we keep in mind that there is a diversity of knowledge in the world waiting to be combined – improved for everyone through action – and that all knowledge is a matter of degree – of perspective – we can begin to make a difference. 

In that perspective lies a realistic view of the world that can allow us to take this diversity of knowledge with a high degree of equanimity and pragmatism that tells us that yes, some knowledge claims seem so far-fetched and need to be adjusted – but life on this planet is about a diversity of knowledge. It’s how we share this diversity of knowledge with our actions – how we put this knowledge in perspective – that can make the world a better place.

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