If you want to be powerful, educate yourself.

Is education really the source of power?

History is riddled with countless people of lesser intelligence who have found their way to power, so is it really necessary to have education as part of your arsenal?

Nepotism, birth rights, trust funds and other pathways to power have produced a wide spread selection of human beings, some wonderful, others despicable. When does the education discern itself as a factor of power?

There are billions of examples, one that comes to mind is the one in the current film, King Richard. In this film, we watch Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, work with his wife to champion 5 stellar daughters under some of the most difficult circumstances in Compton. The focus and determination to bring a much higher quality of life, drove these two parents to deliver exemplary children into a world that was never willing to accept them. Fighting against all odds, they drove their children to stay on the straight and narrow, avoid all of the turmoil and tragedy on the streets, and rise up to become the best there ever was.

Natural talent or determination and tenacity? Probably both. But without the education that their parents were unwilling to compromise, these exemplary children might never have achieved the pinnacles of success that has rewarded them. 

Education comes in many forms and in many places. Certainly school and related educational activities are critical to the foundation that delivers magnitude, but book learning is only a portion of the equation. There are countless other categories of knowledge to absorb, beyond that which is part of a curriculum. These are learned from family, peers, media, organizational leaders, and numerous other places. 

I remember the world before Google and YouTube. Or even before the internet. If you wanted to learn something prior to the internet, you were headed to the library to look something up. Now, almost anything you would possibly ever want to know or learn is in your pocket, on the device you are reading this musing with. If you have never availed yourself to the billions of lessons on YouTube, you have missed a massive chapter of our evolution, awaiting your discovery. You can type any question into Google, and there is an answer waiting for you. That in and of itself is fascinating to me.

During Covid, I taught myself two fairly complicated Adobe software systems by watching tutorials on YouTube and trying what I learned. There has never been a more prolific moment in history to learn freely, than right now. Since the dawn of time, the ability to process what might be absorbed, has grown slowly, ever increasing in the dissemination of learning how to read, getting access to content worth reading, and access to bright minds who will teach us. Suddenly, within a 10 year window, the sea of information, teachers and valuable lessons expanded into a range beyond contemplation. 

Power comes in many forms. Physical, mental, emotional, psychological and more. The power that is available comes through many resources, so the adage, “Knowledge is power,” could not be more prescient. In my own myopic world, I had thousands of ideas for what Sizzle is, but without the knowledge to make videos to explain what was in my mind, I was left with word paintings and they only go so far. I can describe things that I see, but with a video, the transformation of my idea into something another can actually share and appreciate, grows exponentially. Without learning After Effects and Premiere on YouTube, I would still be using word paintings. Now I can simply play a 3 minute video and people see what I am envisioning and the connective tissue goes faster/quicker than before.

The world is plagued by ignorance. The United States has fallen so far behind China and India in our ability to maintain a significant population that is educated, it may never recover. Interestingly, a lot of the knowledge taught to the Chinese and Indian populations arose from some of their citizens coming to study in the United States. We have taken one of our most precious resources (high level knowledge) and exported it to others so that our institutions may generate ever increasing profits. Were these countries wise to send their children here to learn? Unquestionably so. They grasped the lesson from today’s aphorism decades ago, and when our country put knowledge for sale in the marketplace, the world flocked to the United States to learn. 

In the mean time, the United States had hit such a wave of economic prosperity, that many people put education on a lower priority in order that we might harvest the lesser fruits of our labors and savor the joys of economic successes. But as those generations grew and maintained less of a priority for learning, and as our institutions were willing to accept foreign students in place of Americans whose grades were not on par with their international counterparts, the power of the United States has shifted to our foreign counterparts, leaving them in a prime position for global dominance in the decades ahead. 

The United States cultivated the media circus that makes up our news landscape. We have accelerated news programs into the world of what is truly Fake News. And, more importantly, the entities that are delivering the fake news are so adept at labeling everything else as fake, that their uneducated audiences are willing to absorb their new sources’ self-serving rhetoric with delight, all the while feeling superior for “knowing” what is real and what is not. (Or do they?)

Knowledge is the only hope for humanity. Humans are akin to a parasite on this planet, growing increasing fast, and leaving significant carnage in our wake. Never, since the dawn of time, has there been a more dangerous specie than Homosapiens. The closest there has ever come to this danger was blue green algae. It was the first dominant specie on Earth, and it covered the emerging planet, spreading at an incredibly rapid rate, absorbing the carbon dioxide that was the atmosphere at that time, and emitting oxygen as its wasteful byproduct…. Until eventually, blue green algae made so much oxygen that it created a new atmosphere, one that it was not biologically capable of breathing, so it suffocated in its own waste. And other species who needed oxygen to breathe rose from the ashes of the algae.

If humans are truly intelligent, we must learn (quickly) from the outcome of blue green algae and ensure that we are smarter than those microbial entities and use our knowledge to save humanity from extinction.  The only path to true salvation is through science, and learning, and discussing and growing. Anything less is a pathway to our collective demise.

If you want true power in life… keep learning. Never stop. No matter what. No matter how old you are. No matter how smart you are (or are not)…. The smarter you become, the more you will discover how little you really know in the grand scheme of things.

Happy Sunday!

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!