Monday, October 13, 2014

Knowledge is a Curse

If no one has coined that phrase before, I wish for it to be attributed to me. I notice that Solomon, when asked by HaShem what he wanted, more than anything he sought wisdom, for which he was rewarded with much, much more. But, why wisdom? Because without wisdom, knowledge is worthless. Without the ability to decide what to do with knowledge, there is no point to having it. Conversely, one can possess wisdom without great knowledge, because wisdom is the ability to discern how best to handle a given situation.
I am cursed. I have been a life-long student of many things. My knowledge base is quite eclectic because I am, by nature, curious. I ask questions constantly, and I am driven to continue asking those questions until I find answers that quench that curiosity. What is frustrating beyond words is the fact that I am now realizing that, with as much knowledge as I have obtained in my 53 years of life, I know nothing.
I thought I had learned that lesson many years ago. People have often asked me where I acquired my research skills, and I have related the following story in response. I grew up as an only child, born of two parents who married late in life. They were extremely protective of me, to the point that once, when I was five minutes late getting home from school, my father (who was in the Navy but was on shore duty at the time) had already called the police to look for me. I was forbidden to give our phone number out to anyone, including my schools, and one time when I did I was punished severely for it. Extracurricular activities were out of the question. Of course, while I was growing up I had no reason to question the way in which I was being raised, but as time passed and I began reaching the age where one begins comparing notes with others, I started to realize all children were not growing up in the same way I was.
I remember pleading with my parents, over and over again, to have other children. I could not understand why they refused. I was incredibly lonely because not only did I not have siblings but I was isolated from socializing with others by parental edict. Of course, people adapt, and I became quite skilled at entertaining myself. I even learned how to play four-handed poker by myself, and could forget each hand as soon as I picked up the next so that I could play "fairly". Since my father was constantly being transferred, and the Navy was terrible at having housing available upon arrival, I never saw a school year through from beginning to end. As a result, I was always playing catch-up. I eventually learned how to study on my own because in addition to travelling, I was also constantly sick, so between the two I missed almost as much school as I attended and had I not learned how to educate myself I would still be in first grade.
Against that backdrop, I turned 21 and shortly thereafter went to visit my grandmother whom I had not seen in several years. I loved her more than life itself, as anyone in my family will attest. When she pulled out the inevitable family photo albums I indulged her despite my impatience with such things. My extended family was quite large, and I could barely keep my five great-aunts straight, never mind all of their children and their children's children. But, I observed politely as she went through page after page, until she finally reached a certain photograph. She covered the top half of it, and asked me if I could identify the person from just the hands that were crossed on his lap. I said no, and she uncovered the man's face. I asked, "Who is that?", to which she became slightly exasperated and replied, "Well, that's Mark, of course!" I said, "Mark, who?" and she turned white as a sheet. The photo album was put away, and she attempted to drop the subject.
My curious nature was having no part of it. I demanded to know who Mark was. She stammered and said my father would kill her if she told me, and I said, "No, he won't, because I am going to kill him first!" You see, my radar was finely honed, my young brain was spinning with the possible answers to my question, and I was not liking where this was going. So, I asked her again, and she confessed. Mark was my brother (half-brother), and as I extracted further information she told me what little she knew, which was that both of my parents had been married previously and that I in fact had six half-brothers and sisters between the two of them.
I hit the ceiling. I will not bore the reader with what all I did in response to that bombshell, but those who are familiar with me can imagine. After I finally came to terms with the fact that the first twenty-one years of my life had been a lie, I began an investigation into my parents' lives that brought even more information to light, culminating many years later in the discovery of my older, full-blood brother who had been given up for adoption five years before my birth. It is a very long story, and for the purposes of this blog it is not relevant. I relate the story, however, to give the reader a sense of why I despise betrayal.
I have been betrayed again. I am not alone. What I thought I knew about Christianity, the religion to which my grandmother devoted her entire life, and in which I spent many years before ultimately finding Judaism, has been a lie. An atrocious lie. A lie that has led to the deaths of countless of the very people I love with my very heart and soul: The Jews. I am beside myself with hurt and anger.
I have much more study to do in the coming days, but my next blog will address some of what I have uncovered. It is mind-shattering. As I continue this quest for knowledge, I must beg of HaShem all of the wisdom He sees fit to bestow upon me so that I can discern how best to use what I am learning. I am ever mindful of the ultimate goal of my research, which is to do whatever I can to help stop the disaster I see in the making on the world stage. In order to do so, I must be on firm foundation, and that is what I am seeking at this time.