[3054]From “knowledge is power” to “power is knowledge”

Taiwan Church News

3054 Edition

September 6~12, 2010



Editorial: From “knowledge is power” to “power is knowledge”


Translated by Lydia Ma



Francis Bacon once observed that “knowledge is power” and his conviction became a famous aphorism worldwide ever since he uttered it in the 16th century.


What’s the meaning of “knowledge is power”? Put simply, it means we’re strengthened or empowered by having an understanding about something. Knowledge helps us be more effective in the workplace, distinguish right from wrong, and make moral decisions.


All of these good things enabled by knowledge can help people improve interpersonal relationships, help cultures flourish, and help countries pursue freedom, justice, human rights, equality, etc.


However, a peculiar trend has sprouted in Taiwan’s political arena recently. Instead of “knowledge is power”, what we’ve seen happening in various cases or stories across the country is this adage turned upside-down – “power is knowledge”.


The meaning of “power is knowledge” is simply this: As long as someone has power or some high government position, his or her words automatically carry weight and wisdom regardless of what it is that he or she uttered and whether it makes sense.


As absurd as this definition may sound, we saw it played out in technicolor reality when Taiwanese officials’ waved off Da-pu farmers who saw their rice paddies razed and we saw it again when a marine officer was heard uttering a demeaning remark about Aborigines’ work ethics and drinking habits.


One professor in Taiwan wrote, “I once saw a comic strip with a cemetery and a sign that said ‘Herein lies a great company of people who thought they were irreplaceable when they were alive.’ Because our stay on earth is so brief, perhaps that’s the reason why Americans realized they didn’t need a country with heroic politicians, but rather, a heroic nation and culture.” 


A great nation becomes great by building upon a foundation of knowledge and heeding wise people’s words instead of egocentric, foolish talks from politicians. Likewise, contemporary Taiwanese Christians must awaken to the fact that they must use God’s word to fuel their social calling for this is the only way for us to discern and root out “power is knowledge”.