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I Know Nothing

John W. Pinkerton


It often amazes me how little I know.  It would seem that a fellow who has been on earth for 75 years would know more.

My brother, a bit of a contrarian, once commented to me that I didn’t have a trade indicating that I had no useful skills.  Being that he was so seldom right about anything, I dismissed his remark, but did see humor in it and a little truth.

I’ve been a soldier, a teacher, a librarian, and in my old age, an artist and writer, and in spite of these activities, I must confess that I still know less than a thimble full.

I’m not writing this essay to convince you that I’m an ignorant slut.  I’m writing this to convince you that you are.

The generation I’m from…born 1942…we’re more modest than most folks today.  The selfie is easy evidence of this.  The selfie shouts, “Look at me!  I am the center of the universe.  I am…indispensable.”

Au contraire, mon frère .”

I’m not a navel gazer, but I do take an inventory of myself occasionally.  I suspect that this is not a practice among most folks.

If you are a grown person of working age, do not have a job and are not seeking a job, and you’re not a caretaker of a child or other needy individual, stop reading now.  You are an ignorant slut…it just goes with the territory.

For those not in this group, let’s proceed.

If the world were to have an apocalypse, and you were responsible for rebuilding it, ask yourself the following questions.

What would a history of the world look like if you were to write it from scratch?  I suspect it would be a pretty short scribble with not many specifics and a lot of incorrect information.

If we lost all of our medical history and diagnostics, treatment devices, and facilities,   and you were responsible for writing a medical book to help mankind, what would it include?  Could you reproduce a CATscan, X-Ray…tongue depressor?

If we lost all of our means of transportation, how helpful would your contributions be?  Could you build an engine from scratch?  Oh, and there’s that little matter of producing metals: get busy on that post haste.

If the apocalypse destroyed our governments,  how much of the Constitution could you recall?

Even in an apocalyptic world, self-defense would still be important.  What weapons could you produce from scratch?  Nice stick, Bubba.

Today’s world is filled with computers and computer-related machines.  Go ahead and build one.

How about your agricultural knowledge?  It’s going to be hard to subsist on tomatoes grown on your back porch.

How are you doing on this crude homemade quiz?  Hmm…maybe you’re not the center of the universe. 

Many of you bright birds are going to say, “We are all dependent on each other: kum ba yah!”

But on the other hand, maybe we’re just getting a free ride on the backs of less than one percent of the world’s population…the one percent which produces more than it consumes.

Please, quit taking selfies.  It’s more than enough that we get tombstones.