Little Knowledge Is Dangerous

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A Little Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing

During the colonial period in Kenya there were three Kikuyu men Kioi, Githogori and Kaminju who thought that they knew everything. They decided to go to adult education classes to learn English. When they went to the school they carried with them books and pencils and put them on a table. When the tutor came he asked them, "Who put these items here?" They said in the Kikuyu languageni ithuii atatu. The tutor told them that to say this in English they should say we three. They learned these words and went home. The following day the tutor found they had sharpened their pencils very badly "like sugarcanes" and asked them, "What did you use to sharpen the pencils?" They said in Kikuyu na banga. He told them that to say this in English they should say with a panga or knife. They went home and came back the following day. But the tutor told them that he would not teach them until they come back with school fees, that the classes were not free. He sent them away and told them if they were asked why they were sent away they should say it was because of money.

As they walked home they feared that they might forget what they had learned so they decided to assign the three phrases they had learned so far -- we three, with a panga or knife and because of money. As they were going home they came upon the body of a man who had just been killed so they started looking around the scene. As they were looking around a colonial policeman arrived in a car, saw the dead man and asked, "Who killed him?" Kioi replied, "We three." The policeman asked, "With what?" Githogori replied, "With a panga or knife." The policeman asked further, "Why?" Kaminju replied, "Because of money." Now the three Kikuyu men thought that they knew English quite well and were eager and happy to speak with a white man. But they were immediately handcuffed and landed in jail. So the English proverb, A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

To think that one knows everything is like living in a fool's paradise. It is a comforting thought but often leads to arrogance and pride. We know man falls by pride; and therefore the moment he becomes swollen headed, his fall begins. But he will not fall alone. He will cause a disaster; and many an innocent man will go down with him. Like a drowning man he drags with him anyone he can lay hands upon. When you think that you are Mr. Know - all, you will probably begin to act like a No - all. Many an innocent man will believe what you say. If they simply wonder like the rustics who stared at the village pedagogue and wondered how a small head could carry so much, no mischief is done. But if they also believe what you say, they are at once on the wrong side of the fence. Some of the religious fanatics are guilty of such a sin. They do not know what actually a religion is for. They cannot realize that it is for man's good - to bring comfort in moments of sorrow and distress, to guide him in times of illusion and indecision and to lead him out from darkness and ignorance. They harangue about the superiority of their god, decry the people of other faiths call them infidels and declare holy wars in the name of God and religion. The ignorant masses who believe them take to arms and cut the throats of innocent people. The religion which is expected to bring comfort and sunshine in the lives of people will spread distress and darkness. People who cannot understand that the essence of religion is understanding, tolerance, compassion and service will think that they are pundits and prophets. People who believe in racial superiority are no better. They talk of blue blood, azure eyes, blonde hair and fair skin and look down upon others. They too suffer from the limitations of little knowledge. They do not realize that we all belong to one race - the race of man, whether the colour of the skin is white or yellow, brown or black and that these variations are the ways of nature to add beauty and...
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