Soundtrack: Willie Hutch “The Glow”
A Writing from Cedric Muhammad from February, 11, 2008. This message is more timely than ever.
” There is a critically important difference between information and knowledge. And it has a bearing on the ability of all of us to move effectively, and improve our condition on the basis of what we learn. Generally speaking we learn through four means, conversation, observation, reading, and experience. The last of these always involves suffering, and that is one of the reasons I always stress to my Christian Brothers and Sisters, who are undergoing life’s challenges, trials and tribulations, the principle of elevation described in Hebrews 5:8, ”
Some of my friends listen and some don’t (smile).
But I always note how many of us say they believe the scriptures, but when they undergo certain difficult circumstances, they throw the book that they believe away, or at least place it back on the shelf, to collect some more dust.
Similarly, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad reminded Muslims of the oath they have taken, ‘My prayers, life, sacrifice and death are all for Allah.’ To those of us Muslims who say they believe and then, in the excruciating hour of pain begin to put their faith (and the Word that it is based upon) behind their backs, if I am able, I direct our attention to Surah 9: 111 which says (emphasis mine):, “Surely Allah has bought from the believers their person and their property – theirs (in return) is the garden. They fight in Allah’s way, so they slay and are slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who is more faithful to his promise than Allah? Rejoice therefore in your bargain which you have made. And that is the mighty achievement.”
All of us, whether religious or not have made a bargain, or some form of agreement or covenant with life or death.
Read Isaiah 28 from as many different translations as possible.
Get as many commentaries on verse 18 as possible.
Then learn what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught about the meaning of that verse.
Start with his book, Message To The Black Man.
Whether one refers to it as the The Garden, Kingdom Of God, Heaven, Total Liberation, Full Freedom, Self Improvement, Community Development, the Promised Land, The End Of The State, The Hereafter, Nirvana, The Common Good, or The Pursuit Of Happiness, all of us, who come to this website, in one way or another, are part of a process – from one stage of growth or state to another – that will bring us closer to an ideal or concept, or thoroughly disappoint our expectations. Take a moment to think over why so many people are said to have become ‘disillusioned,’ in or by life itself. Study people who believe they have been betrayed by leaders, movements, organizations or institutions, and try to learn the root of their anger or bitterness, and how it relates to the ambitions, ideals and concepts they had, before they ‘joined’ a movement, organization, or institution or before they came in contact with a certain leader. The way we handle disappointment and dissatisfaction truly manifests who we are, or are not.
Now, what is an ideal? How does it differ from an idea? Is it true that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come? Is an ideal only an idea in the best possible or most appropriate time and circumstance?
Imagine what it is like to live your life in pursuit of a state of existence that does not currently exist in the reality that most experience. Reflect over those who carry an idea that exists more in their heads and hearts than it does in the world that they currently find themselves. We can see this phenomenon at work among both men and women.
Aren’t the ‘greatest’ stories those that involve some human being overcoming obstacles and difficulty to bring forth an idea, vision, creation, product, service, or institution that no one else thought possible?
Why are human beings seemingly drawn to such stories?
Does this not point to something in human nature, and suggest something of our emotional, mental and spiritual (not religious) power, and our connection to something coded into the nature of the universe itself pertaining to destiny, and our ability to co-create – in harmony with its laws – new ‘realities’?
In some respect, almost all of us, consciously or subconsciously, are looking forward to, and striving for that which ‘no eye has seen, nor ear has heard…’
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote of this, and stated for decades that the Muslims were headed into a condition of life, and a physical world (which existed in space and time), that only existed, at that time, in the Mind of the Supreme Being, and was written of only in a Book that the Supreme Being had not revealed to the public, or anyone else for that matter. He described that this Book was promised to one man in particular, and then through that man, the rest of the world could experience the Unlimited Progress that this Book represents and would make possible.
To a lesser degree, ‘The Messenger’ described how each of us could experience the ‘Hereafter’ on this side of things, but that such an experience would be fleeting until those most responsible for breaking peace were removed. He also spoke about how we would have to develop our ‘inner self,’ in order to be qualified to make it through a great final war that would precede and usher in the new world. His National Representative, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, has taken us deeper into what His Teacher referred to, than anyone I know of, through his Study Guides: “Self Improvement, The Basis of Community Development.”
If you have never seen or read these Study Guides, please don’t waste time in getting acquainted with them at:
Recently, I had the privilege of spending some time with Minister Farrakhan. At a certain point, he said to me, “Brother Cedric, I do not know what you have suffered, but I do know you have suffered.” Later, in conversation, I told the Minister that when I look at what he has suffered (and continues to), as well as that of a couple other individuals whom I personally know, that Labor with him, I am very aware that whatever I have gone through, it simply does not compare. I then said to him, “and I know that all of it (the suffering) has been preparatory.”
The Minister gave me that beautiful smile of his, and nodded saying, ‘that’s right.’
To me, what the Minister and I were acknowledging that day is perhaps the secret that so many acknowledge in a variety of ways, but seem so unwilling to accept as part of life’s pattern. Napoleon Hill discovered and summed it up essentially as, every adversity contains within it a seed of an equal or greater success. Some Christians I know sum it up as one cannot obtain the crown without first accepting the cross. The best athletes and performers, in training, know it as ‘no pain, no gain.’ Farmers understand it in certain principles of cultivation, and who really knows it any better than the Woman, who through pleasure conceives a child, then through pain and travail delivers that child, and through pleasure, again, enjoys the beauty of nurturing a new life.
Perhaps, the Holy Qur’an states it best in Surah 90 verses 4 and 11 which read, “We have created man to face difficulties…But he attempts not the uphill road.”
The principle of being able to face difficulty and endure pain and discomfort in the service and pursuit of a greater good is ever-present to those with spiritual eyes to see.
The more we realize it, the more successful we will be individually and as a people.
There is untapped power in grasping the power of what we have suffered as a people.
Could it be that the saying that many of us apply at times only to art and entertainment – that ‘suffering is the mother of creativity’ – is universal, and suggests something about the power ready to be unleashed by Black people – who have suffered and endured the most, in all of recorded history?
At some point, before the year is out I hope to finally begin reading a book entitled, “Suffering For Science: Reason and Sacrifice In Modern America,” by Rebecca M Herzig.
When and if you have time, read the powerful introduction to “The Adversity Advantage” by Paul G. Stoltz and Erik Weihenmayer.
Our suffering has created an atmosphere and fertile ground for the greatest ideal and idea to take root and be born.
As well as that critical mass or foremost group of human beings who best embody it.
We are almost at the time of delivery.
As with all births there will be blood, but eventually only joy over a new quality of life will remain.
At BlackElectorate.com for over 7 years we have chronicled the life (and death) experience of Black people, all over the earth. We have not done this without a purpose. Although the individual visiting the website has benefited from this free display of information, in a variety of ways, that we are pleased to learn of, this website was never established for a casual, or strictly individual or professional benefit. We hope we have served each and every viewer in a way that is suitable and meaningful to their individual experience but our greatest desire and intention in doing what we have, is to serve a community of individuals, not only through information, but through learning and the application of what they understand, in service of the very people they are reading about.
In this area an important distinction has to be made between data, information, knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
First consider this from a book that was the final report of a group of senior Canadian government officials, private-sector executives, and researchers between 1990 and 1997. The primary focus of this group – the Roundtable on Governing in an Information Society – was to explore and develop more effective ways of governing in this rapidly changing world. In Renewing Governance: Governing by Learning in the Information Age by Steven A. Rosell we read:
We are exploring a territory for which there is no reliable map. The inadequacy of our conceptual apparatus to make sense of proliferating and unfamiliar information is usually described and experienced as ‘information overload’. But it may be more accurate (and useful) to see the real problem as the insufficient capacity of our existing frameworks and methods of interpretation – our existing mental maps – to translate that data and information into meaningful knowledge. This formulation is based in part on a distinction suggested by Harlan Cleveland:
– data are unrefined ore, undifferentiated facts without contexts;
– information is refined ore, organized data, but data that we have not yet internalized (the newspapers we have not yet read, the course we have not yet taken);
– knowledge is information that we have internalized (integrated with our own internal frameworks.)
These distinctions became important parts of the vocabulary of the project, helping us to see that the process of translating data and information into knowledge (the process by which data and information are interpreted, given meaning, and so made useful as a basis for action) is central to effective governance.
Although not perfectly how I would describe knowledge, the above is helpful in making a point about a difference between information and knowledge, particularly in this age of talk radio, Internet news, the 24-hour cable news and opinion cycle. Information is more of an external or superficial phenomenon, while knowledge involves the internalization of information with an awareness of its factual nature. Understanding revolves around the meaning of knowledge, and wisdom is the application of what you understand.
Again, this generally constitutes learning which revolves around conversation, observation, reading, and experience (which always involves suffering). To place greater emphasis on spiritual and unseen processes of learning, one could add revelation and intuition, but that could be a qualification of the previous four methods as much as it would be a fifth category of learning.
One of the factors that all of us – particularly those who have been oppressed though improper or miseducation – must be careful of, is the degree to which we increasingly rely upon exposure to information sources as our primary means of learning. There are too many of us that are not making the distinction between data, information, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
In a critically and increasingly dangerous time for human beings of all colors – in the streets or in the suites – to be misinformed can be fatal.
When people ask me about the essence of the Internet and why people utilize it, I always boil it down to two factors – convenience and anonymity. Essentially that is what makes the Internet so attractive. It is a wonderful vehicle, for so many different things, and it has been a blessing to so many of us.
Having said that, I believe that improper use and disproportionate reliance on the Internet has aggravated an aspect of the so-called crisis of the Black Intellectual, and compounded some of the problems inherent in our miseducation. Especially over the past few years, I have noticed how the use of e-mail blasts, the circulation of stories and articles, and the ability to make rapid financial transactions has enabled some wonderful activity, as well as some harmful or anemic advocacy, passing as revolutionary, productive and progressive activism. I have referred to some of this in terms of the phenomenon of ‘talking and typing.’ And I have tested it by inviting and challenging the most vocal and articulate to take ‘small’ action steps in support of their arguments, points of agreement, and passionate expressions.
It has been a fascinating experience to see the loudest do the least, and those with the least volume in their words, demonstrate a volume of work.
Could it be that the most brilliant sounding and intelligent among us lack a form of intelligence, capacity, or ability to truly activate on the basis of information? Is it perhaps most alarmingly true in the Black Community that our intellectual community (and those of us while exercising the greatest intellectual ability) has – to borrow the understanding of Nathan Hare – become more of a disconnected elite, than a vanguard connected to the masses (and the rest of our ‘normal’ or ‘down to earth’ personality)? Or could it be that the work of the intellectual is inherently a different kind of work than that of the grassroot activist, community organizer, or institution builder?
I don’t believe that ‘yes’ is the answer to the last question but I do think there is something to the so-called right and left brain thesis. Many of you know I certainly make distinctions between critical thinking and creative thinking, and am always impressed by the very few that I have seen who have been able to do both – creatively and critically construct ideals and ideas into models and then, creatively and critically give birth to and then establish them in reality .
One interesting and rare example of an intellectual able to execute and apply his insights successfully in the competitive world of business is Gary Loveman who left Harvard Business School to head Harrah’s in Las Vegas. Read these articles about his path at your leisure:
I’ve discussed this factor with Reuven Brenner for years, as it relates to economists who only know from theory as opposed to those who have that ability, as well as deep experience in business and as entrepreneurs.
There is something important and ‘real’ that I see missing in so many who have the strongest and dare I say ‘most informed’ opinions on Black politics, culture, and economics.
It is not that they are purely intellectual in a professional sense. Many of these folks are laypersons, everyday people. But when they think into our problems there is a disconnect between their knowledge and its practical relevancy to their circumstances on the ground.
Part of it is the lack of a forum to work together with other thinkers, to refine that thinking while faced with a real challenge to solve the problems that face our people, while being held accountable to produce a working result. If you can’t give folks an opportunity to do more than talk and type about these important areas, they will do just that. .
…From a speech made by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, “The Will of God” Part I we read:
Will is Power but Power must be guided. Guided by what? The Power of Will must be guided by Knowledge. But there is an emotional force that gives direction to Will. And the emotional force – which is the creative force upon which the entire Universe is constructed – is Love. And it is out of this awesome power of Love that the Will springs up; it springs up out of this emotion and it is directed and guided by that emotion. When you couple Will and Knowledge and Love, then you have a balanced individual, whose Will is being used in a creative, constructive way; not in the way of destruction.
…Read Isaiah Chapter 59.
Truth, although always powerful, has fallen in the street.
It must be lifted up, not only in word, but in deed.
I recently came across a very important article in The Muhammad Speaks newspaper which I intend to get to every member of our “Business and Building” Community. In the February 21, 1969 edition, an article was published entitled, ” Reeducation of Intellectual New Cry In World Movement.”
As it relates to what was happening in Cuba at the time, the article states, ” ‘Education from books is necessary for all of the masses,'” any Cuban will tell you. But, they will add that ‘such education is not enough. The practical realities of life are also of prime educational importance.’ ”
On what was taking place in China, at the time, the article states, “Mao Tse Tung of China has recently called on the educated peoples of China to get in touch with the working people of that land. Presently, a great exodus to the countryside is going on in China with millions of young Chinese returning to the land for an education in rural life. Mao’s purpose is as much to remind the educated Chinese young of the reasons for the revolution as it is to acquaint them with the hardships of rural life.”
There is so much in these words for us to study and with which to perform introspection. As it relates to rural life, something powerful has been dawning on me of late as it concerns Black people’s general disrespect or ignorance (greater among those residing in the North or Urban areas) of farming and true land ownership (not just real estate investing in houses and properties). My thoughts have been deepened on this point since participating in a review of the Nation of Islam’s farmland, led by Minister Farrakhan, in Georgia last month, and my recent interaction with several brilliant Black Farmers, Businesspersons and Politicians, based in the South.
In the February 28, 1969 edition of Muhammad Speaks the Honorable Elijah Muhammad places an important article called, “Build Black Economy.’ In it he points out how Black intellectuals, professionals, and businesspersons fulfill some aspects of negative prophecies described in the 56th Chapter of Isaiah and the 23rd Chapter of Matthew.
One of the things the Honorable Elijah Muhammad brilliantly pointed out about the Black educated class of our people, which the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has repeated, spoken into, and worked out of, for decades, is the reality that it will only be working among our own, outside of the current system of things, that any Black intellectual or professional will truly be able to practice their skill on behalf of their people. We all know the frustration, dissatisfaction, and disappointment in the hearts and minds of Black social scientists, academician, professionals, and government employees who studied what they did to be qualified for what they do, only to be unfulfilled once they realize that their best efforts benefit those outside of their community more than those within it, or, are generally ineffective in solving the problems that their training was advertised as enabling them to address and overcome.
What is at the root of this?
On one level it is the impossible scenario of someone being content and satisfied performing any endeavor without knowing who they are. Having the knowledge and expertise of a trade, skill or craft while being ignorant of one’s true self, and your contextual and historic relationship to your people, while sensing you are being improperly utilized, is a recipe for deep depression, and in the case of some, suicide.
We all can find in recorded history the accounts of our best and brightest who had emotional breakdowns and bouts with serious depression due to their inability to reconcile where they are in life, with the ideal they hold for the upliftment of their people.
We all can find this same dynamic at work much closer to home, and the workplace.
This pain grows out the yearning, longing, and deep hope in the heart of most all of us for change for the better for the masses of our people, while realizing that we are not in the best position to effect it. In the case of some, it is the realization that our talent, skill, labor, wealth and brainpower is being used against this legitimate aspiration. Related to this is that September 17, 1960 article by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, “What Must Be Done With The Negro?” In it, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad says that Blacks were a people who give their brainpower, skills, talent, labor and wealth to another civilization and until we stopped doing this – as well as increasing land ownership – we would not move beyond freed slave and dependent status toward independence and self sufficiency. On the point of self-sufficiency, in his 1969 writing, “Build Black Economy,” the Honorable Elijah Muhammad stated of the members of the Black business professional class, “If you make the Laborer wealthy, he is still in your orbit and you share in it. He will love and honor you if you enable him to become self-sufficient.”
The question can be posed today as it was decades ago – how much of these five factors: wealth, brainpower, skills, talent and labor of Black people, is being deployed on behalf of Black communities and how much for communities and individuals other than themselves? How much of what the Black political, and economic intellectual, or the Black professional and businessperson knows, is actually being applied to “make the Black Laborer wealthy”?
This goes way beyond what is popularly referred to as ‘prosperity preaching.’
One of the questions that anyone providing information, knowledge and education to people should be concerned with is – what is the most appropriate of all information, knowledge, and education that can be shared?
Just consider all that could be learned.
The Holy Qur’an states in Surah 31 verse 27, ” And if all the trees in the earth were pens, and the sea with seven more seas added to it (were ink), the words of Allah would not be exhausted. Surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.”
The Bible illuminates this same principle in John 21:25 with the following: ” Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would have been written.”
Every day we are bombarded with information – how do we know what is most appropriate and timely for us to know?
At BlackElectorate.com we have tried to help make that determination for you for over 1,500 days since the year 2000.
And now, it is my intense desire to work with a critical mass of you – who have not only fed from the table we have set, but who have much to offer to expand the menu of learning – to deepen our mutual understanding of that which we have been informed about and know, and ultimately, to apply it to contribute to the solution of specific and carefully selected problems.
…I came across some insight in reading Minister Farrakhan’s Study Guide # 5 Building The Will Part I. A particular focus of the material deals with Section 3 and 4 of Surah 11 of the Holy Qur’an, which centers around Noah’s interaction with his people. I encourage you to read these sections carefully.
They are loaded.
In summary, Noah’s people debated and disputed with him over the message he was delivering to them. Eventually, his people asked him to bring on the ‘painful day’ of which he was warning them. Soon after their challenge, it was revealed to Noah that he had reached the numerical limit of those who would ever accept and believe his message, and that it was time for him to ‘make the ark.’
Immediately when I read this, I thought over the nature of some of the recent coverage we have been featuring at BlackElectorate.com, and the kinds of articles people have been forwarding to us regarding the decay and decline of this world’s systems.
I often wonder about the thinking of many of us who point out the obvious signs of the fall of America – politically, culturally, and economically – but who seem unwilling to prepare for its eventual reality by doing for self.
Just think about it, as the evidence mounts that the house is falling apart, shouldn’t those most closely observing the decay be foremost in preparing for its effects or consequences?
An example of this are the numerous and increasing conversations I have with some very intelligent folks regarding the fall of the dollar which do not include any mention of what Blacks as a people need to be doing to prepare for the decline and eventual hyper-inflation of the world’s most powerful currency.
As I write this I glance at today’s Wall St. Journal lead story entitled, “Recession Fears Weigh Heavily On The Markets.”
If I sent this article around to many, I am sure I would get an interesting debate and dialogue going on the nuances of this story, but very little in the way of lying those insights with a recognition of the time and what must be done.
This is what I mean by excessive intellectualism.
Perhaps I should send this November 26, 2007 Wall St. Journal article as an e-mail blast along with the February 28, 1969 Muhammad Speaks article, “Build Black Economy” by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Final Call‘s report on the May 13, 2007th speech by Minister Farrakhan entitled, “One Nation Under God: Part 5 – The Fall of The Dollar” (http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/article_3518.shtml).
How long must we debate, read, and observe the signs before we are compelled to engage in that dialogue and cooperation that results in united action?
…along with those who understand the time and what needs to be done, we would like to contribute to building the ark that can survive the difficult days that are surely on the horizon.