Thursday, 2 October 2008

We Don't Know Everything

It was the birthday of the parish priest and the children had come with their birthday greetings and gifts.

The priest took the gift-wrapped parcel from little Mary and said, “Ah! I see you have brought me a book.” (Mary’s father ran a bookstore in town.)

“Yes, how did you know?”

I”I always know,” replied the priest.

And you, Tommy, have brought me a jumper,” said the priest, picking up the parcel Tommy held out to him. (Tommy’s father was a dealer in woolen goods.)

“That’s right. How did you know?” “Ah, I always know,” replied the priest.

And so it went, until the priest lifted Bobby’s box. The wrapping paper was wet (Bobby’s father owned a bottle shop), so the preist said, “I see you have brought me a bottle of scotch and spilled some of it!”

“Wrong,” said Bobby, “it isn’t scotch.”

“Well, a bottle of rum then,” said the priest.

“Wrong again,” said Bobby.

The priest’s fingers were wet. He put one of them in his mouth but that gave him no clue. “Is it gin?” he asked.

“No,” said Bobby. “I’ve brought you a puppy!”

[Anthony de Mello]

When I finished my first degree, I thought I knew some stuff. Then I did an Honours degree, and I thought I even knew more stuff. Then I did a PhD and realized I knew virtually nothing! There is just so much to know! So much. And there is so much that is mystery, and I will never know or understand. That is the danger with a great education: we think we know all we need to know, or that we can work it out ourselves, whether that be as individuals or a human race. Not quite so. At some point we come to the realization that there is always more to know and more that we will not understand. Humbling really.

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