How could knowledge and truth be dangerous and harmful? Knowledge and truth can threaten a loss of credibility to the ones who already have it when the others find it out, but ignorance is the one which can keep them safe as well. And, in contrast with the previous statement, knowledge and truth should be shown to people because it could be beneficial to know what happens in the world and to themselves and everything that surrounds them. Knowledge being “a good thing”, it is a good which leads to a worse situation. Knowledge and truth are beneficial to be able know what is going on in the world, what is around you, what is everything, and also stops you from lying to yourself. It is frightening, when you expect a truth that you are not ready or eager to hear. It is harmful and risky when you don’t like that truth, or when truth leads to something bad. Therefore, truth and knowledge can be beneficial, but also harmful, risky, and even frightening.
One example in History is Scientific Revolution. Many discoveries and theories in various scientific fields have challenged the Catholic Church’s beliefs. One example is heliocentrism challenging geocentrism, many scientists contradicting the Holy Scriptures, like Galileo Galilei and Nicolaus Copernicus challenging the Church. The Catholic Church banned books contradicting their beliefs and teachings, which showed how they hid truth and knowledge from believers, and how knowledge is forbidden. One of the reasons for that could be the loss of credibility from believers, and Church’s biggest fear was people questioning their faith after finding out the truth. They knew that saying the truth to believers could raise questions about what else they were hiding or lying about. For instance, in Lord of the Flies when you compare the rest of the boys to Piggy and Simon it becomes clear that the rest of the boys are ignorant but think they know everything because of that knowledge, which made their situation even worse. As the English poet Alexander Pope said, “A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring; there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drink largely sobers us again”. This quote means that people having a little knowledge think that they know a lot because they think that that knowledge is the only truth. Another demonstration of this in Lord of the Flies is when Piggy, the character which symbolizes knowledge, is always interrupted and can’t express his opinion or a fact. This situation happens many times in the book, for example when Piggy is trying to talk and Jack Merridew, the chief of the Hunters, interrupts him saying: “You are talking too much. Shut up, Fatty.” (21) even if Piggy had barely talked because they always make him be quiet, and in this way knowledge stays unknown to the others because they force him to hide it in some way.
The issue is not only how knowledge and truth are hidden, but how they are treated in society. Something else in the book is Piggy’s death, or in symbolic terms, knowledge’s death. Another example in the book is Simon’s death, who represented kindness and truth as well. They are killed in the moment when they are going to release truth or say something wise and logical. The violence against knowledge is showed when Roger is about to slaughter Piggy: “Roger, with a sense of delirious abandonment, leaned all his weight on the lever.” (180) and then when Piggy is brutally murdered and the conch is broken: “The rock struck Piggy a glancing blow from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist. Piggy, saying nothing, with no time for even a grunt, traveled through the air sideways from the rock, turning over as he went. The rock bounded twice and was lost in the forest. Piggy fell forty feet and landed on his back across the square red rock in the sea. His head opened and stuff came out and turned red. Piggy’s arms and legs twitched a bit, like a pig’s after it has been killed. Then the sea breathed again in a long, slow sigh, the water boiled white and pink over the rock; and when it went, sucking back again, the body of Piggy was gone.” (181) At this point, after Piggy’s death in the second to last chapter, knowledge, wisdom and truth are not only hidden, but they are gone and won’t come back in the rest of the novel. This and the break of the conch, which kept them together and “in peace”, set a sort of chaos, where Jack does not show any kind of regret, but pride, and sounds really harsh and cruel. Simultaneously he declares himself as the definite leader: “See? See? That’s what you’ll get! I meant that! There isn’t a tribe for you anymore! The conch is gone -- I’m chief!” (181)
Another example in the real world is the Global Surveillance Disclosures incident, mainly caused by Edward Snowden, starting on June 2013. He leaked top-secret documents about the global surveillance in which the NSA, CIA and foreign organizations are involved. As the time passed the topic became more and more known internationally when he released those documents on the Internet and shared them with recognized newspapers in many influential countries. This awakened the important representatives of those countries, and made them realize that secrets have consequences once they are discovered. These new findings gave rise to fear and made people feel sort of threatened, watched, and controlled. People just discovered that many powerful governments of important, developed countries have been spying the whole world. This example shows that no matter when you say it, it will hurt, have bad consequences and negative effects.
These examples demonstrate that truth can hurt more than a lie, and both options, saying it and not saying anything, would have negative consequences, and the only difference between those two actions is the moment where it is said. The consequences of having and not having knowledge, and learn why knowledge is necessary, important, but at the same time risky is necessary because as Alexander Pope explained, having a little knowledge makes someone think of themselves as wiser people than they actually are, and makes them ignorant. It’s an important point because everyone should have the right to know, but total transparency is never an option. In politics, for example. It’s almost impossible for them to know what is people’s reaction going to be, that’s why they know that it’s risky saying what they are about to say, because everything can change from one moment to another. Because of that, they feel obliged to lie to protect the society. But then, why do we always want to know, even if we expect the worst as an answer?
Golding, William. Lord of The Flies New York, Penguin, 2006
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Kreis, Steven. "Lecture 10: The Scientific Revolution, 1543-16." Historyguide.org. HistoryGuide.org, 2002. Web. 29 Mar. 2017. Scientific Revolution
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