A post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time ago popped up in my mind again today and I decided it was time to write about it.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” (Maya Angelou)
Angelou has often been called America’s conscience for the advice that she provided in her poetry and writings.
Most of us go through life making decisions based in part (sometimes in large part) on things that we believe rather than things that we know.
I think we all carry around baggage with us of beliefs that we mistake for facts. In recent years we have become more sensitive to the fact that others may be distorting the facts in order to channel our beliefs in a direction favorable to them – it is standard fare in politics were the phrase “Fake News” has gained traction. That is one reason that it is important to always challenge whether things driving our decisions are just based upon beliefs and not proven facts.
Every time you start a thought or start talking with the phrase “I know”, stop and think about that. Do you really “know” based upon observation or proven facts, or do you just believe, based up something that you heard from someone else or maybe saw on the Internet. Much of the time you may discover that you don’t really “know”, you just have believes. Most fears are based on beliefs rather than facts. Those baseless fears are the foundation of prejudice and hate in many.
There are many (if not most) things in life that we cannot prove for ourselves, but we can at least chose to believe (know) things that come from a proven source with direct knowledge or proof from scientific testing. It is tragic that so many people have died during the COVID pandemic because they believed some cockamamie things they saw on the Internet or heard from someone who was not a health care professional. All the while there was validated advice from health experts that those so-called cures or preventatives were just like the snake oil; of old – total BS.
Maybe the best advice is to stop yourself every time that you start to think or say, “I know”, and think about whether you really know or just believe that what you are thinking or about to say is valid. An even worse start to any thought or thing to say would be, “I assume(d)”. Assumptions are not only unproven they are literally things that you made up yourself, without any evidence to support them.
So, when you challenge what you “know” and take the time to sort out the truths from the beliefs, you actually end up knowing better. Angelou’s advice then makes more sense and is easier to heed. Why would you continue to make bad decisions based upon bad beliefs when you now “know” better?
Now you can do better.