Thursday, January 05, 2006

Three Little Words

(Advance for Saturday 1/7/06)

They are words we just can’t get ourselves to say these days.

Denial? Fear? Growing impersonality?

In an age that sees massive “communication” facility, the internet, chat rooms, instant messaging, conjoined ears and cell phones, cable and satellite TV, satellite radio, newspapers, magazines, and an occasional face-to-face conversation, these are words we almost never hear.

Three little words. It was a song title, once. The words were “I love you.”

Then, followed other variations: “go to hell,” or “let’s do lunch.”

But the three little words that are missing from the conceptual vocabularies of many are these:

“I don’t know.”

What is it about us that makes it so hard to admit ignorance? Maybe it’s because we confuse it with stupidity. The former can be cured by learning, the latter cannot.

Remember Rumsfeld’s twisted comment about WMDs? “We know we don’t know, but we don’t know what we don’t know…” Something like that.

That was as close to a public utterance of the Three Little Words that we’ve heard in decades.

We just can’t admit it.

We just can’t face it.



Can you imagine a doctor hearing your symptoms (sneezing, coughing, stuffy, runny nose,) and not saying “it’s a virus?” Of course not. “it’s a virus” is doctor speak for “I don’t know.”

Your broker answers your question on whether to buy a particular stock: “well, it depends on whether you want to ‘value’ or ‘growth’ invest.”

Verizon on why your DSL doesn’t work: “It may be because your ‘Internet Explorer’ is corrupted.”

Your auto technician (nee mechanic) on what’s wrong with the car “it might clear up if you changed your fuel injectors and re-set the computer.”

Little Brat’s teacher on why Little Brat can’t read: “probably a confluence of hallmark events in his early life, combined with the possible influence of too many candy bars and the ambience of the classroom.”

The Long Island Railroad on why and how late the train will be: “We have signal and switch problems at Jamaica and as soon’s we get those resolved…”

Dick Cheney on ending the war in Iraq: “(censored.)”

All these things come down to those three little words: “I don’t know.”

Einstein didn’t know, either, but admitted it. He figured on keeping his brain clear of trivia because anything he NEEDED to know and didn’t, he could look up.

Old Al knew something, when he didn’t know something.

We could borrow a little from that famous hairdo. It would simplify life and other seemingly endless variables.

But now, the only time you hear “I don’t know,” is when a thief or murderer is trying to evade the questions of a cross examination. Or a corporate criminal is trying to cover his part in a book cooking.

“I don’t know” should be covered by the first amendment, not the fifth.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

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