The Curious Case of Curiosity
Why General Knowledge is Undervalued and Why It Shouldn’t Be
Curiosity is indispensable. And yes, it does kill the proverbial cat if the cat pokes its nose in matters not concerning its business.
Being curious about the world is a medicine to ailments that are sometimes not known at the time you are gathering knowledge. How often have you heard friends and worse still, parents discouraging children from acquiring general knowledge. What use is knowledge without application, they say.
True, not applicable today but what about the future. Or a better question: does everything need to be evaluated on a scale?.
Gathering knowledge, I argue, is always useful even it is to enrich your understanding of the world. Some of the best things in life cannot and should not be subject to cost benefit analysis such as being curious in general. More so, in today’s knowledge economy. Knowledge is half the battle won. Perhaps, certain strands of knowledge about the universe that cannot be encoded in deep neural networks could be the last difference between humans and their creation — Artificial Intelligence(AI) or perhaps, not so. But then again, gathering knowledge can be pure fun.
Imagine being an adult and a child at the same time. Granted there is always the fear of being labeled a man child. But, how many tomes on leadership espouse curiosity as a virtue sometimes to the detriment of being known as a know nothing. Decisions based on imperfect knowledge, though can be even more disastrous than saving face.
However, if being on television playing Jeopardy does not whet your appetite for fame, consider other non simplistic human needs that general knowledge can quell:
1. Relationships: how often have you known someone to smile back at you and to instantly befriend you just because you understand where they come from, their values, their history or their language. Conversations around the Meiji restoration, in the right context, can build a bridge with a Japanese almost instantly. That bridge could be a bridge to his heart and mind. India is a land with countless languages and dialects. However, a little effort invested in knowing more about the place and the people you are about to meet never fails to strike a chord. Common sense, right? Yes, but fairly uncommon in reality.
2. The Every Man: There is something to say about a person that is comfortable having a deep conversation with anyone: his son, workers on the shop floor or the board of directors. A person that can understand strategy, get it executed and doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty in the process.
3. Empathy: A collective view of human advancement can only be enabled by empathy. General knowledge can promote empathy in the most unimaginable ways.
Globalization proceeded at a rapid pace and people were blindsided with the rapidity of change. They realized how knowledge of crude oil prices can affect their personal lives. In other words, seemingly unrelated concepts that are connected and have a direct impact on individual lives. Macroeconomics is never more important than today.
The next wave of changes will be unprecedented and knowledge will make all the difference between success and disappointment.
Be curious and read voraciously. Appreciate Art as much as sports. Do not be a frog in a small pond. Instead, strive for knowledge until you discover the purpose of life.
This article is not intended to be a revelation but rather as a reminder, to value and explain that value to the subsequent generations, that visits to museums can be fun and that there are very few interesting things in life than incomplete stories. Ultimately, that’s what history is. An incomplete but informative story waiting to be retold.
The world is a perishable experience limited by our lifespans. Don’t let it slip out of your hands without trying to experience all it has to offer.
My wish for everyone — Be complete. Godspeed.
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