The Knowledge of Good and Evil

The Burden of Knowledge whether Good or Evil

From my earliest Bible study, I remember wondering why God didn’t want man or woman to know things. Why would he care if we ate from the Tree of Knowledge? Why shouldn’t we know what God knows? As an adult I’ve learned things that were once outside of my tiny sphere of knowledge and experience. Things that I cannot NOW unknow. Not all were the horrors of people’s mistreatment of other people, though, that was devastating to learn. Some of what I had to face were my own prejudices based on my limited understanding. The hardest thing to unknow is your own failings as a human being.

Growing up in a small town I was insulated from many of the world events, and I was secure in my tiny bubble that this was what the world was like. Like a tiny child who is loved and protected, my understanding of the world was limited to what I could see, feel and hear. Over the years my tiny bubble has grown to encompass a larger world and hopefully a greater understanding. I have experienced the world through life events, the media, entertainment and relationships. Each of these contacts have brought with them a different point of view, a new set of questions and a widening of the world I’d previously known.

As a writer, I’m constantly seeking to expand my characters’ base of understanding but also create in them their own tiny bubble. Every character has to deal with a personal lie in order to experience growth and change, which brings about story. Exploring backstory, watching real people and studying psychology have allowed me better understand what a character will do and how they will react to certain circumstances. Yet even as I try to step out of the story, much of what I write is filtered through the lens my own truths, my own tiny bubble.

A somewhat bizarre conversation with my teenaged grandchildren over Easter opened my eyes to another perspective that I’d previously missed. It is amazing and frightening how much they know and understand at their young ages, more than I do in my advanced years. There have been things I’ve learned that I wish I could unknow because the knowing changes me and not always for the good. While there are somethings I’m thankful to have untangled; there are even more that the knowledge of does not bring me comfort. It has made me realize that perhaps God didn’t want us to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, not because he didn’t want us to know the things he knows but that he didn’t want us to be burdened with that knowledge.

My grandchildren impressed me with their knowledge of the world’s hurts. Their comprehension of the cause and effect trauma and abuse has on a person, is even greater than my own after years of study and life experience. It makes my heart hurt that this knowledge is part of them already, for it will color how they view the world. We cannot unknow something we’ve been exposed to. We can choose to ignore it and call it a lie but the only person we’re deceiving is ourselves. Like the characters I write about, some have seen or experienced some of the ugliness in the world, others are aware through friendships and relationships, each reacts from their sphere of knowledge, their tiny bubble of understanding. As writers, we hope to give readers a new way of experiencing the world without having to go through all of the trauma and drama themselves, open your heart and mind, READ.

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