Monday, September 30, 2013


Our civilization is more and more dominated by omniscience.

The telegraph, and later the telephone, allowed news - especially bad news - to travel at the speed of light. Indeed, sometimes we are lucky. The worst news I have ever received came with the incredible delay of 24 hours. So I have an undeserved, extra happy day.

If you happen to be messenger of omniscience, to avoid the dreaded phone call, you will go to deliver the news face to face if possible. If the recipients are your loved ones, they will greet you with joy (before they see your face), and you will realize that you are witnessing their very last happy moments. You will remember to tell them to sit down before you start talking, but you will have forgotten to bring any sedatives.

When we have to talk with others - especially children - about the death of someone they love, we wish we could sincerely say that he has gone to Heaven. But being omniscient like gods, we cannot find comfort in the blind hopes of religion. Knowledge comes at a price, shutting out of Paradise those who acquire it.

We have no choice but to find ways to live with omniscience. If you have adopted a child, you know it is best to tell him early that he is adopted. Otherwise, some "kind" neighbour will do this, just to demonstrate his omnipotence.

Or the truth will surface after a banal medical test. These tests are another realm of omniscience. If you suspect that some unwelcome condition could develop in you or your child, you in most cases can get tested. If the result is negative, you will be reassured. If it is positive... you "at least will know".

Nothing can remain hidden. We know this and, nevertheless, still try to keep some things secret. And when, predictably, the secret gets out, we feel miserable and cannot ourselves explain why.

No comments: