There was a time, that is our childhood days, when we use to think how to say, “I don’t know!” primarily because we think that the other persons is given to feel that we know everything under the sky. Whereas today I am seeing there is enough freedom for anyone to admit that I don’t know something.
Rather I would say that only a person with great courage could say those three words “I don’t know.”
In a way I started thinking that there is an underlying wisdom in not knowing, and a person who can say “I don’t know” ought to be a wise one. One has to agree that no one knows everything. One will also agree that even a Heart specialist – mind it he is a specialist – wont have the answers to all the questions posed to him about heart ailments. Only thing is that a person with courage will advise you seek better advise from another specialist and the one with ego or false prestige will keep on trying things that will eventually lead to complications. But by saying I don’t know or seeking expertise from elsewhere you stand a better chance that the guy will come back with whatever he could understand from elsewhere. It is in line with the old saying only an empty or half filled vessel can accommodate further.
There are many things in life that we don’t know, and there are many more things we may have no interest in finding out. There is freedom in saying “I don’t know” when we really don’t know something, we can then open ourselves up to the opportunity to learn. One can’t possibly know everything. And when one thinks one does, it is limiting themselves from growing and / or learning more than what we already do know.
Also a person who can admit to not knowing will be more intellectually and emotionally confident than someone who pretends to know everything. People can end up appearing more foolish when they act as if they know something that they actually don’t.
It would be wise to respect people who openly admit when they don’t know something. At least they are being honest, with themselves as well with others. And we, too, should feel no shame in saying, “I don’t know.” In doing so, we open ourselves up to the unknown. We can then learn what lies beyond our current levels of understanding. If someone says “I don’t Know” even if one says with a funny face, a shrug, and a comical, we should learn to respect the person rather than ridiculing.
[Madhu K. Nair 12th August 2011]