All the answers, but what’s the question?
I wish I had all the answers. I know some people who do. I’m pretty sure you do, too — know someone who is smarter than the rest of us. Maybe you are even lucky enough to be one of them.
I think maybe I used to be one of them. Although I can’t be sure because I’m not sure of most things. I have a hazy memory of a younger me who used to know it all — or at least a lot of it. Then I blew out a few more candles on the birthday cake and realized how little I really knew and how much more there was to learn. I saw how my opinions about different subjects changed and evolved over time, making me even more knowledgeable than I was when I thought I knew so much, but didn’t, really.
But back to the good folks who really do know it all (it goes without saying, you know who you are). One would think, I think, that a person with all the answers would experience a certain, perfect form of inner and outer peace. Being all-knowing would bring with it a heightened tranquility and sense of serenity. There would be no need to be adamant or pushy about one’s opinions if those opinions were always 100 percent spot-on correct — especially the political ones — yes, especially those.
That’s why it’s puzzling that people with all the answers are also the ones who are often outspoken regarding their absolute and infinite knowledge. It would seem if you are unquestionably assured of your correctness that you could whisper and be heard. You wouldn’t need to shout or scream the truth — IN CAPITAL LETTERS — because that tends to turn people away, not recruit them to your cause.
Shouting often comes across as anger (just ask my kids). When I shout I’m not doing a very good job of listening because I am so busy being right that I forget there may be another way to look at things. Shouting most often does not work and is not advisable — unless you are in a burning building, doing the laundry or for some reason find yourself holding a megaphone. If that’s the case, by all means, go right ahead.
To be fair, being around a bunch of uninformed people who don’t know as much as you must be frustrating for those enlightened few. Perhaps that’s why they hit the caps lock on their keyboards while signing on to social media to share non-fact-checked links. I wouldn’t know, since I’m on the negative side of the omnipotent and deep knowledge pool. But I can only imagine (which I’m probably not very good at, either).
Other techniques used by people with all the right answers include applying feigned humor or mockery to make fun of opposing opinions. What they lack in kindness, really knowledgeable people make up for in clever. LOL. This is especially compelling when sarcasm, belittling and name-calling are utilized in tandem. It takes skill to combine the three and I’m always impressed by a person who does so. I give them extra points if they include an unattractive photo of the person or politician they are intending to debase. These effective techniques work on me and I am immediately drawn to the other side of an argument when it is illustrated how silly my original opinion was anyway. I’ve got a lot to learn.
I should give thanks for the good folks with all the answers. They tell me what I need to know and how I should think. I used to be one of them. Then I figured things out and realized how much I’ve yet to learn and no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to know it all.
Which might just put me one step ahead of those who think they already do.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.