KMbeing

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

Tag Archives: harmony

Generations, Perspective, Choice & Knowledge Mobilization

blame

There’s a 1988 song by the band Mike and The Mechanics called In The Living Years that begins with “Every generation blames the one before, and all of their frustrations come beating on your door…we all talk a different language talking in defense.” Although this song addresses a son’s regret about not expressing to his father the things he wishes he would have said when his father was still alive, the opening lines reflect an inter-generational view that holds meaning for many.

I write this blog post from a more personal than usual perspective – a mid-life perspective that some may relate to and others not so much, depending upon which generation of “X” “Y” “Z” or “millennial” group you are lumped into. Regardless of when you were born I hope you will consider these words as a message reaching out to all generations.  I am considered a tail-end “baby-boomer”. Born in 1964, I may now be called a “zoomer” or aging “boomer” who still has zing. Inter-generational tension seems to exist regardless of which part of the past two centuries you were born. History reflects a momentum of building upon (or criticizing) the generation that was born before – or after – you were born.

As I grow older – closer to retirement than to the idealism of my twenties – I realize that perspective is everything! But it’s not just about my own “older” perspective, it’s also about being open to the perspective of any generation. And being open means not talking in defense. Our perspective is our own reality.

Each week I write about knowledge mobilization. I firmly believe that by exchanging our knowledge across the boundaries of age, gender, ability, race, culture, nationality, religion or sexual orientation we can come closer to understanding each other and learn from each other to make the world a better place. Problems occur when we dig our heals in and refuse to be open because of ideology, faith, extremism, or a sense of entitlement or lack of fairness (As a friend of mine likes to say, “life isn’t fair so build a bridge and get over it!”). All of these are dichotomies that have and still polarize us in our world today – that do not focus on the underlying understanding of our common humanity. One need only look at current news in the media to see the continuing presence of such dichotomies.

Although I choose not to speak publically as an employee about the York University and University of Toronto labour disruptions (as a former colleague who worked with me at York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies has done in a recent blog post) events such as these are clear examples of when people take a dichotomous “us” and “them” mentality. Pointing fingers and saying “they can” or “they should” don’t help such situations – it only inflames them further.

I grew up in a low-income family and never had the opportunity to finish an undergraduate degree until I was in my forties – after much hard work, jobs with minimum wages, no health or insurance benefits, attending classes while working full time – with years of sacrifice. It wasn’t due to a lack of intelligence, but to various circumstances in my life. So I know something about precarity. I worked many years in the hospitality industry, made a choice to change careers to work in the academic world, and continued to work hard to finally make that change a current reality. It seems far too many people today expect immediate gratification and seek possessions, technologies, money, careers, benefits, and higher education as some automatic entitlement or right.

Each one of us lives our lives, experiences challenges (some more difficult than others) and we either learn to pull through or we don’t. Along the way there are those kind human beings who try to lend a hand for those more in need – and there are also those more selfish human beings who really don’t care. This is the ultimate and only dichotomy that counts. (It’s also why I consider knowledge mobilization important to overcome hatred in our world). Ask any person from any generation if they know someone from their own generation with either a kind approach or a hateful approach to our fellow human beings and you will certainly find the answer is yes in any generation. Then ask yourself, which side do you fall on?

From a broader human perspective – our main goal should be to increase every person’s well-being and quality of life, but sadly, we don’t. Because we still point our fingers and say “they can” or “they should”.

But is it our right to expect such kindness from other human beings. No.

This is also the challenge of our living together on this planet.

Do I expect people to be kind? Hopefully – but never certainly. This happens regardless of generation.

After basic needs are covered, everybody has the right to pursue other goals in life: happiness, wealth, careers, and knowledge – including higher education, but they must all be understood from an individual’s subjective perspective.

Many societies attempt to increase the well-being and quality of life of their citizens to create greater inclusion and harmony of living. My interest in knowledge mobilization is based upon this very ability to bring together policy-makers, practitioners and researchers from public, private and non-profit organizations – in a civilized, inclusive, and non-accusatory manner – to create sustainable solutions to challenges such as poverty, social exclusion, discrimination and other problems that create suffering and disparity within society

While basic education is necessary and a human right for children to learn and develop social skills; and secondary school education is required to focus on developing professional skills; higher education is an opportunity, a privilege and a choice which aims at providing specific knowledge for advancement in various fields. Higher education is not a human right – it is a purely personal choice.

Problems occur when one conflates the choice of pursuing higher education with the opportunity to be paid for work while doing so. The reality is that there is a choice between pursuing a higher education and working in a job to make a living wage. Not recognizing this reality is abdicating one’s own power to enact personal change through personal choice – and with choice comes responsibility.

Most importantly, remember – tomorrow is promised to no one.

The Persistence Of Sharing Knowledge

persistence

When we persist in sharing knowledge for social benefit it becomes easier for us to do.  Not that the nature of the knowledge has to be earth-shattering, but it’s the ongoing action of taking steps to contribute to greater knowledge for good that makes the world a better place. Any bit of knowledge shared for social benefit can make a difference.

I’ll never know what knowledge I may have gained if I had other opportunities in my life. But life is about choices, and I’ve made the choice many times to give something up in favor of something else, and in the process, making new knowledge connections while missing others. That doesn’t mean that the knowledge that I have shared or gained can’t continue to make a difference. It’s all about the persistence of continuing to share the knowledge I have and be open to the knowledge of others that makes the difference.

This persistence in sharing knowledge reminds me of when I first started writing my knowledge mobilization (KMb) KMbeing blog. My first blog post on April 3rd 2010 was a first step into the unknown as I wondered if my knowledge sharing could make a difference. Almost anyone can write a blog and share knowledge. It’s the persistence in adding a new post at regular intervals that has helped me recognize that I can make a difference for good that makes the world a better place. By consistently sharing my knowledge and learning from the knowledge of others each day over the past few years, I have been able to connect with people from over 140 countries, and gained recognition as one of Canada’s top ten knowledge mobilization influencers.

Sharing bits of my knowledge on my blog has invariably become much easier for me simply due to persistence – and I believe this can happen for almost anyone if they persist in continuing to share their own knowledge and be open to the knowledge of others.

As we share our knowledge more openly with each other, our world becomes more connected, which can lead to greater recognition of our diversity and our common humanity – ultimately leading to greater understanding, and hopefully a world of greater harmony. 

Unfortunately, though, many people feel the discomfort and insecurity of sharing their own knowledge and they quit (or don’t even start) before they ever give their knowledge the opportunity to contribute to social benefit – they quit before their chances increase.

Public speakers grow by speaking, writers grow by writing, bloggers grow by blogging – knowledge grows by sharing. In whatever manner you want to share your own knowledge, just start and it can make a difference. The more we do something, the better we get at it and the easier it becomes for us. That temptation to give up is simply avoiding the discomfort or insecurity of believing in the power of one’s own knowledge to make a difference. It’s about not second-guessing that somehow even the “limited” knowledge we think we may have can’t connect with someone else’s knowledge and move towards making a difference in this world. It’s all about the persistence of sharing knowledge for social benefit that can make the difference.