Blind Leading the Blind

A guest blog article by Brian H. (student, world citizen)

Knowledge is power.

A sentence only three words in length contains enough information for people across the ages to try to attain the most knowledge possible so they can maintain a status in the most powerful class in their societies.  This is how it has always worked and will continue to work, unless it does not.  If the system truly worked this way, there would not be nearly as many problems in society as there are.  There is a piece of the puzzle that is missing, but the problem is not that it has not been found, it is that it is repeatedly ignored by the ruling class in order to keep the “un-powerful” from taking the first step to change the world.  Knowledge may be powerful, but wisdom is the key to using that power for the benefit of all instead of the benefit of self.  Because the emphasis has been placed on knowledge instead of wisdom in the educating systems in society, the blind truly are leading the blind.

Becky Beal conducted a study of skateboarders in Colorado.  She studied the mindset of the skaters and also noted the involvement of female skaters, or lack thereof.  When interviewing the skaters, she asked some of the boys about how they felt about the female skaters.  “ . . . I commented on the lack of female participation and asked their opinion about why it occurred.  Most males were taken aback and they spent time reflecting on it (as if they had not given it much thought before), and their explanations ranged from describing ‘natural’ differences to social preferences of males and females” (Beal 67).  Skateboarding, as a subculture, is not taught in school, so presumably it is learned by watching and doing what others before have done.  Through learned behavior, the male skateboarders of today have not seen how their behavior about and towards women has affected the women who have come to enjoy skating.  In this blindness of self, the behavior is not only acted out by those who have learned, it is also taught to a whole new generation of younger skaters starting out.

In the movie Mona Lisa Smile (2003), Katherine Watson moves to Massachusetts to teach at Wellesley College.  The students she faces are all products of the society they were raised in.  Students such as Betty Warren and Joan Brandwyn have already decided that they are going to finish school, get their degrees, and be happily married instead of pursuing careers.  The society they grew up in (especially represented by Mrs. Warren’s pressure on Betty to stay in the marriage) does not see the role they play in pushing these roles on their daughters.  “Inside a marriage a man and woman may experience personal troubles, but when the divorce rate during the first four years of marriage is 250 out of every 1,000 attempts, this is an indication of a structural issue having to do with the institutions of marriage and the family and other institutions that bear upon them” (Mills 6).  Through posing many questions and challenging her students to open their eyes beyond what they believed before, many of them experience personal growth.  Even though Joan still got married, she made her own choice instead of fulfilling an obligation to her given societal role.  Betty left her marriage to build her own life for herself.

When the blind are leading the blind, it can be almost impossible to break the cycle to create true growth.  It is not that people are incapable of realizing wisdom from their knowledge and applying it, they just need to remember to always maintain the insight and clarity of mind to not get stuck in a rut where they are merely comfortable and too afraid to improve not only their lives, but also the lives of everyone else.  It has been shown repeatedly over time that history does repeat itself, so it is time to stop living in denial and figure out that something society is doing is not working.  Knowing that all great journeys start with a single step is knowledge, but wisdom is knowing that the first one to step out will walk alone until others see the way.


Mills, C. Wright.  2000 (1959).  The Sociological Imagination: 40th Anniversary Edition.   Oxford University Press.

Beal, Becky. 1996. “Alternative masculinity and its effect on gender relations in the subculture of skateboarding.” Journal of Sport Behavior.


11 thoughts on “Blind Leading the Blind

  1. The acquisition of knowledge does keep people in power controlling the lesser knowledgeable. The root of the problem is not just knowledge and people not having wisdom to use it. The problem is people getting comfortable with the way they live and the acquisition of wealth. People that are wealthy and on top of our society are comfortable so they force their views by ways of using their power and influence to guide the less fortunate. Why? Because they are incapable of change they don’t see it and don’t want to. Even though there has been great examples of people at the end of their lives donating vast amounts of their fortunes to help others the idea that everyone should change the comfort of their lives for the better of everyone is not realistic. It’s a problem, and as long as we live in a society like ours it will still happened.

  2. I fully agree with the author on this topic, knowledge is indeed power! Through knowledge comes awareness and that just opens your mind to everything around you. The author made a wonderful point by saying that people are a product of the society that they are raised in. I agree with this statement completely and I feel that this is the real issue that needs to change. If every society would just open it’s eyes to the true matters that effect them, acknowledge them and present them with solutions that work, then and only then would the people of the society experience personal growth as a whole. If everyone would “look at the bigger picture” and highlight would needs talking about, then they can move forward for future generations to come.

  3. “the idea that everyone should change the comfort of their lives for the better of everyone is not realistic. It’s a problem, and as long as we live in a society like ours it will still happened.”- Mario I completely agree. I think change and the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom as one people will have to come one in small doses but it could come one day. Tupac Shakur said he may not change the world but wants to have an effect on who does. If those who have this “wisdom” reach out and keeping touching others the world could be in a better place than before

    1. The problem I keep having with this idea is not the fact that is good, I think is great and wonderful and hopefully one day we can put aside the small differences we have and come together as one. However, I would be a dreamer to actually think that with the system we have in place that could actually happened. I hate to be pessimistic but the reality as I see it is different. For example elite people that have not just the money but also the power to change some of the problems we have in this country are not doing their fair share and don’t want to. Look around you and look at the situations we are encountering as a society, even though there is people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet helping others our system of governance still the same. Maybe one day we change the way we see how society is structure and how we spread the wealth for the better of humanity and then wisdom can be spread and people could be better.

  4. There is a strange phenomenon seen in nature. When there is a group of sheep, one starts leading another, and another, and another until the leading sheep starts to follow the last trailing sheep. This creates a big group of sheep just circling around in an infinite loop. This reminds me of that. People think that every one else knows what to do when in reality, there all just as lost as you are. We sort of make up things as we go along. Trusting that those in charge know what they are doing and not contributing with your ideas and knowledge will lead s nowhere. There needs to be more leading and less following in this world.

  5. I agree with the point you all are/ were making. A friend of mine was recently explaining to me how skewed the concept of “everyone should be a leader” is; if everyone was a a leader there would be no one to follow. I agree that it does take on step or one one person to begin a social movement; without the others that follow the ‘leader’ stands alone failing to make his point. I suppose this could connect to the concept of the power of the people- leaders only begin the movement. It is the people that follow that actualize it.

  6. I do agree that knowledge is power but I think that one must have some experience when he or she is trying to teach or guide another person into a productive path. I think that each person has something to offer and should put out what they have to offer to the world. There are some that know alittle more then others as well. I think that if someone has knowledge they should not through it in others faces but use it to better things in society. Being intellegent is one thing but having true wisdom is another. I think everyone should strive to have wisdom and use it fo good things.

  7. I agree with this topic. Knowledge is the key. Knowledge is very hard to gain when the blind is leading the blind, Meaning the next man has the same knowledge if not less. I think the best form of knowledge is experience, going through something yourself.

  8. I do agree with the author’s statements. There are a few flaws, mainly that he is mainly talking about something called book smarts. Yet street smarts isn’t really mentioned. Street smarts directly effects your success the future. The reason for this is because book smarts is just factual based knowledge that is difficult to add into the ‘real world.’ Street smarts on the other hand is the knowledge that you gain throughout your steps of life. This is the type of smarts that aren’t taught in school, it’s the type of smarts that keep you alive, it’s also the smarts the people tend lack.

  9. I cannot concur with this article since the claims are too vague on the effects and beliefs the author dictates on society regarding knowledge versus wisdom. Personally, despite the author’s claims towards the trend of individuals becoming products of their environment I feel have slowly been deteriorating. Particularly, since the inception of our digital evolution in America, individuals are beginning to recognize the economic potential in expanding their once narrow horizons. As more start-ups and innovations gain exposure these incentives systematically bind others to their cause, especially now that the web is now far more accessible to a highly diverse class of individuals. The impact Web 2.0 has ignited remains a reliable source of growing databases to keep societies connected despite varying geo-locational differences. Which offer a unified structure to persistently interact third-parties that may be considered foreign to those observed variables. In the near-distant future developments in the IT sector will begin to employ sophisticated outlets into connecting users in real-time with foreign counter parts via augmentation (AR) and virtual reality (VR). These practices will capsize on a true-to-life seamless design in gateways outside an individuals enclosed community. For example, foreign societies may begin to meet in real-time virtual communities, sharing experiences across an expansive universal platform just as we do similarly today in reality. Once we reach that pinnacle of blending those technologies together, the possibilities become limitless and will alleviate even more those prior restrictive boundaries individuals are continuously engaging.

  10. I agree knowledge is power but it all depends on how you use your power. You could either use your power to build up or tear down no in between. So like you were stating some people do not use the knowledge they have obtained and apply wisdom to not follow in the foot steps of wrong doings but in society its hard to stray from the cyclical ways of our societal influences. This makes me think of mills theory of the two levels. For example, how you were talking about the statistics of divorces in marriage, I feel like on the micro level for the married people who have kids and get divorced the kids they have will see this and remember it as they grow. When they settle down and find somebody I feel like the chances that them and their spouse will get divorce increases and instead of staying together they might split apart. On the macro level it contributes to the overall statistics of people getting divorce in our society.

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