Home > Daily life > Sorry, I don’t know

Sorry, I don’t know

It may sound contradictory coming from a blogger with acknowledged strong opinions to say it but it’s true, I often don’t know and I even more often don’t care. “Don’t know” in the sense of answers to polls. Regarding any subject under the sun, 36 percent think this, 54 percent think that, the rest don’t know. But polls are pretty much the only place where you’ll hear this. Everywhere else, we’re busy knowing. We hand out stars to films and songs and books. We comment, ah, how we comment! Any page worth its salt will ask you to scroll down and leave a comment and we always have one. Companies selling products, PACs selling candidates, newspapers selling opinions, all want to hear ours. They all need grades. Like faculty in universities who don’t dare hand out anything below an A minus for fear of receiving poor evaluations, everyone wants us to rate them. And we do, we enjoy doing it. Our times don’t encourage modesty and frown upon “I don’t know.”

Well, I don’t. Honestly, there are lots of subjects big and small on which I have no opinion either because I don’t have all the facts or because I’m not interested. Should this NBA athlete receive untold wealth although virtue-deficient? Do I prefer Miley Cyrus’ new do or Rihanna’s? Should Roe vs Wade be repealed? Should Bank of America or former Countrywide CEO go to jail? I-don’t-know.

I may be interested in a variety of questions and concerns but that doesn’t mean I necessarily have an opinion. Minor issues I dismiss as not worthy of my time; major ones I sometimes find too complex for me to decide what is right and what I should think about it. What would be a major issue? Abortion, for example. That it should be legal and available? Definitely. That doctors should be in danger when they practice abortions, that medical students today avoid the field as specialization, that is unacceptable. But that it should be easy to have an abortion, that every woman should have the right to decide for herself, no matter the circumstances? I don’t know.

Euthanasia is another one. Again, that it should be available to end suffering, whether physical or mental? Yes, absolutely. That family members should go through the anguish of taking that step for a loved one and that doctors should comply? I don’t know.

Etc. etc. I could go on listing examples but I’ll end now. And strongly encourage you to scroll down and leave a comment.

  1. February 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    I think that “I don’t know” is a valid response. After all, how can you learn anything if you already know? How can you put any water in a glass that’s already full?

    As a culture, or maybe even a species, we are so certain about everything that we’ve stopped listening to each other, and we’ve stopped learning. That doesn’t bode well for the planet or for civilization.

    The older I get, the less I know for sure.


  2. February 23, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Yes, the less I know for sure, I recognize that. As I recognize when I don’t know something. And when I don’t even have an opinion about something. How often will people admit to not having an opinion?


  3. Ed Levy
    February 24, 2012 at 6:30 am

    There’s an old East European story about the Town Fool going around asking people to tell him what the Hebrew expression “Ahnehne Yodayah’ means. A friend tells him it means “I don’t know,” but the Fool isn’t satisfied and seeks out the Town Rabbi to know for certain. He finds the Rabbi in a great hall where the Rabbi is competing with a Czarist official. If either cannot answer a question correctly, he and his people will be expelled from the town. Before the Rabbi can speak, the Fool enters the hall and calls out “What does Ahnehne Yodayah’ mean?” The Czarist official immediately responds “I don’t know,” after which he is dragged protesting from the hall and the Fool is congratulated for saving the day.


  4. February 24, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Great story! Thanks for sharing.


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