On Sunday, 27th of January 2002, there was pandemonium in Mile-2 area of Lagos State. Everyone was running helter-skelter with the exception of a chemistry teacher who was calmly strolling down the street. The pandemonium was because of bomb explosions occurring at a neighbouring town (Ikeja Military Cantonment, Lagos). You might be wondering why the teacher did not run with others. Could it be that she was fed-up with life? No! She didn’t run because she had a good knowledge of the constituents of the atmosphere of which Nitrogen which does not support combustion has the highest percentage composition (about 79%). This made her understand that no matter what happened, the explosion could not spread to where she was and that was the secret of her calmness.
In the first place, what is knowledge? Knowledge is simply the information, understanding and skills gained through education or experience. It can also be defined as the state of knowing about a particular fact or situation. A person who is knowledgeable about something is well informed about that thing. Francis Bacon said “Knowledge is power” and you and I know how important power is. If that be the case, we can emphatically consider Knowledge, which is Power to be very important. Now, the question is: What is the importance of knowledge?
Knowledge gives you an edge over others who lack it. In the short story above, one can clearly see how the chemistry teacher had an edge over others who were ignorantly running helter-skelter, some even to the direction of the explosion. She had this air of confidence around her – a characteristic peculiar to knowledgeable people. Giving right judgment or showing great discernment is another importance of knowledge. One needs knowledge to be able to discern good from bad. It was this same knowledge that helped the wisest man, King Solomon, to discern who the real mother of the baby was in the popular bible story.
Another importance of knowledge is in the area of scientific and technological advancement, which has made life much easier than it was in the past. Nowadays, movement from one place to another can be done in the twinkle of an eye with the aid of aeroplanes, helicopters, cars etc. In addition, inter-connectivity has been simplified. One can now connect easily with people all around the world via the internet, telephones, etc. In the area of agriculture, mechanized farming has indeed helped increase farm produce.
If you want to gain the respect of others, acquire knowledge. I say this because knowledge earns respect. Think of any great man or woman whom you respect so much and you would see that the person actually attained that height because of his or her knowledge in certain aspects of life. To buttress my point, permit me to mention a few names: Michael Faraday (father of electricity), Ben Carson (a great Neurosurgeon), Dr. Alexander Fleming (discoverer of Penicillin) and even Barack Hussein Obama (a great Lawyer and first black president of the US).
The point I am about to make now might sound funny to you but it’s true. Knowledge makes people look ever young. Relax! I would explain but before then I would like to give you a few example of people who fall into this category from my own judgment. The 1986 Nobel Prize winner – Prof. Wole Soyinka, the former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor – Prof. Charles Soludo and the popular Nigerian actor who featured years back in the TV drama “Things fall apart” – Pete Edochie are some of the practical examples I wish to bring to limelight. Year after year, these people look the same or sometimes even younger. This is because knowledgeable people are problem-solvers; it is easier for them to come up with solutions to virtually every problem, thereby having little or nothing to worry about since too much worrying brings about fast aging. In addition, the knowledge they have acquired helps them know what to consume and what not to consume unlike an illiterate person who eats anything so long as it is edible, without considering its health effects.
The importance of knowledge cannot be over-emphasized because it is part-and-parcel of life. In fact, I would say with apologies to ignorant people that ‘Knowledge is life’ because both are inseparable. The more one lives, the more he or she learns. As T.L. Osborn rightly puts it, “When you stop learning, you start dying”.