Meghna Kanthan & Valli Muthukaruppan
Nashua High School, USA
"Knowledge: awareness gained by experience of a fact or situation. This definition does not encompass the capabilities of knowledge. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is truth. Knowledge can change the world. But we cannot make a difference if we do not put it into practice. Awareness is not enough. Our knowledge must transform into actions that affect not just us, but the world around us. It is a tool that is only effective when it is shared by everyone.
Knowledge is continually evolving. We must use our progressive knowledge to find updated solutions to improve our condition. We should not be satisfied with temporary solutions to longstanding issues. Pushing our problems away will not make a difference. Knowledge is useless if we continue ineffective practices, such as donating food to those in need or continuing to depend upon non-renewable resources like oil and natural gas. Rather, we must collectively use our knowledge as a tool to create renewable processes. As Lao Tzu said, “Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for life”. Whether it be creating efficient agricultural systems or developing effective solar technology, our actions must be long-lasting. If we continue to avoid pressing issues, it will be too late. Economic wealth cannot be our greatest priority -- it cannot and will not solve all our problems. We must work to bridge the income and technological divide. With our knowledge, we have created successful technologies that can help resolve serious issues, such as access to clean water. However, we must create and implement low-cost forms of these technologies in remote areas. It is meaningless to create innovative systems and tools that are unavailable to those who could greatly benefit from them. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is like holding the key to a locked door: useless.
We are all equal, regardless of race, gender, or sexual identity. Rather than equality, however, we need equity. In the race that we call life, some people are given a head start, while others have to run with weights placed on their back. It is not a level playing field; not everyone has a fair chance. Some individuals are extremely privileged, while others lack access to basic needs. Rather than treating everyone equally by providing everyone the same resources, we must use our knowledge of socioeconomic inequality to support those who require more assistance. To visualize this concept, imagine a tall person and a short person watching a game behind a fence. Neither can see the game because they are too short. With equality, both people would receive a stool of the same size. The tall person can now view the game, but the short person still cannot see. With equity, the tall person receives the same stool, while the short person receives a larger one. We know that not everyone is equally privileged, so we must understand that not everyone requires the same amount of help. Knowledge can bridge this gap. Everyone must receive an opportunity for an equal education, and thus we should strive for educational equity. We must support and advocate for marginalized communities and individuals because they do not have advantages that others are awarded. With knowledge of equity, we can help everyone succeed.
Our knowledge must not be used only for the present because it is also the greatest tool to shape our future. Issues of our time will persist for future generations if we do not take action now. Time is running out. It will be too late if we continue to turn our backs to injustices. We must fulfill our responsibilities to ourselves and each other. Just one small step may start us in the right direction, but if we walk together collectively, we can make real and lasting change. Combined action is like a chain reaction. It is important to make informed decisions because they have the potential to influence everyone around us. With our knowledge, it is vital to undertake efforts that will influence the community around us. Our collective knowledge is the wealth that we must share with the world. It is a call to action. Knowledge is the passport to responsibility.