As of knowledge and affluence, it could be argued that it is learning that humans’ life taps into. This is shown by many philosophers believing that knowledge can play a fundamental role in our lives as well as most scientists having put a lot of effort to prove this fact by their daily researches and studies. Furthermore, the topic of this paper seems to have been a controversial issue amongst students in different countries, most notably Iranian ones, as an educational subject for essay writing. It is worth bearing in mind that the predominance of knowledge over money has been implanted into pupils’ minds as a positive value in such countries, but schoolchildren have had totally opposite attitude towards wealth by which they can achieve a desirable life. These days, there might be a lot of people coming from a variety of backgrounds considering wealth as a skeleton key to unlock any doors such as love, not to mention knowledge, so they hardly ever prefer education to financial matters. Merchants enabling to supply themselves with any basic necessities in no time can be just good cases in point. Therefore, to put this issue into perspective, perhaps it would be useful to look objectively at two major ideas on this contentious issue.
On the one hand, there are some people who believe that the more we learn, the healthier and easier life we can live. As support for their argument, they usually point to improvements in lifestyles of thinking being done by numerous advances in science and technology, including medicine, communication, physics, biology among others. By way of illustration, most state-of-the-art surgeries in which surgeons use sophisticated instruments to cure acute cancers, especially tumors, rather than sticking invasive methods of cutting bodies wide open are obvious examples of the domination of knowledge over materialism. In addition, new communication gadgets, namely professional mobile phones enabling us to make contact with far-flung corners of the world are another point mentioned by this group. To them, the opposite idea that having money, we live a life without stress fails to take account of the value of a world with spectacular progress in science. In fact, this group would be passionate about pushing back the frontiers of knowledge at any rate, no matter what it might cost them. In other words, taking risk, many scholars are ready to venture their lives for science. The assumption that money can ensure a safe and secure future life does not seem to be defensible, largely because there are millions of people living with poor conditions in rich countries such as Iran, in particular, with relentless sources of raw fuel. To put it simply, people of Third World countries might be considered as victims of ignorance, and this could be all the more reason why they cannot be confident of a crystal clear future with no tense. In developed countries like USA, however, most people can enjoy their entire life utilizing the advantages of new technologies resulting from investment in science and education provided by a powerful government. Moreover, those environmental issues which are at crisis could be the other worry of scientists to which the opposite group may pay less attention. This is widely accepted that in many developing countries, the most common type of fuel consumed on a daily basis is the fossil one. There is no denying the fact that to run power stations, factories, and cars, there would be a great need for oil or coal which, in turn, produces a large amount of fumes containing carbon dioxide which is harmful to the environment. Global warming, the greenhouse effect, and the hole in ozone layer could be typical after-effects of using fossil fuels leading to irreparable damage to the nature. Also, general well-being can be predominantly affected by above-mentioned pollutants. Heart failure and brain stroke, for example, as two significant maladies having risen drastically during last decades. Technological advances, nevertheless, caused by years of study and toil to reach high levels of knowledge can result in a cleaner atmosphere being more suitable for the ecology by means of solar energy, wind power, hydroelectricity, wave power, and bio fuels, to name but a few. Most scientist are unanimous on the fact that these sources of energy would be environmentally friendly, mainly because they bring less damage to the environment and they are more likely to be renewable. This means that there could be always sunrays, wind, water or cow manure available to generate electricity. As a result, not only can knowledge affect positively humans’ life, but it could also help the environment to a great extend.
On the other hand, there are those who claim that affluence will have more profound impact on people’s lives, in comparison to knowledge. The main reason behind such a notion is that money can open the door to success in various aspects, namely science, education, communication, and most importantly health. Broadly speaking, it is clear that almost all physicists, for instance, living in Third World countries spend their entire lives investigating for science purposes. In many cases, physicists are successful in getting efficient results coming from the laboratories where they have been working for years. Undoubtedly, such outcomes could help physicists be held accountable in society -- like Albert Einstein who immigrated to USA and completely changed the way that scientists understand space and time -- but by the same token, financial matters can be of great importance. In spite of the fact that in developed countries there would be a better opportunity for scientists to live in peace of mind with less economic problems in their families, in developing ones, these famous ingenious people are often living poorly as a result of full-time researches abandoning them from the world of business. So, a physicist may turn to relevant governmental institutions where not only would they register their work, but they could be also hopeful to have a decent future life supported by the government. If luck struck, the physicist’s research might be accepted by professionals in authority; nonetheless, most institutions are not willing to comment on such a scientific booming by using the dearth on capital as a pretext for their own end. Actually, the root of the problem lies in the ambitious attitude of the government towards science, as is depicted by many Iranian physicists that there seem to be some contributory factors associated with authoritarian political systems in the Third World upon which governments would be able to introduce physicists’ plans as their own achievements to gain notoriety; thus, the prospect of flourishing scientifically and financially for physicists could be very little in such countries, unlike the First World. For this reason, Middle Eastern governments would try their chance to steal the plan from physicists, firstly by financial proposals offering a plausible price for the initiatives; however, in view of the fact that authorities may not be successful in their long-term goal of being famous and for the excuse of great danger of falling priceless scientific information into the hands of other countries, government often reach a verdict of eliminating physicists by accidental death for or labeling them as enemies of the country. Additionally, if the research was not proved to anyone as valuable, there could be as much toing and froing in several ministries and courts as bringing scientist to frustration with no results, albeit wasting a lot of money and time. On the contrary, having an ample amount of capital to invest in their projects, for example a prototype, physicists could be capable of running their own production line; consequently, not only can they enjoy the outcomes of their projects, but they might also make a great fortune out of their investment.
To look the world at large scale, let’s turn our thoughts to the lifestyle of a teacher which can be much simpler and common example as well as more realistic one. Considering education, almost everything that one learns from the very beginning of their schooling could have a strong relationship with the very first person teaching them how to read and write known as “teacher”. This can be a teacher who gives knowledge a new lease of life by nurturing new students on a yearly basis; however, being as educators of our would-be scientists and scholars, most of these venerable teachers live in very poor conditions. To put it another way, teachers’ lifestyle would pale beside that of other people. In most cases, teachers can provide themselves with only a small house on installment, and repayments to the bank may take approximately a lifetime. Also, some teachers are the tenants who might feel compelled to change their accommodation or increase the amount of annual rent according to the landlords’ wish. Usually, these self-sacrificing people cannot afford a private car, and to run a tenable life with a safe and sound future, they would turn to having private classes at home. In that case, teachers may cover some economic problems. Furthermore, invasive disease can be crucial in teachers’ lives since proper treatments could be out of their price bracket, and yet governments would dedicate the capital of the country to political objectives; hence, teachers might be under compulsion to spend every penny of their nearly 30 years hard working to cure such prominent diseases, and then, die in absolute poverty. Whereas, a rich person can provide themselves with much comfortable ambiance conducive to living healthily till the end of their lives.
Last but not least, the life of Mr. Winston can be interesting to many. As a penniless and unemployed layman, Winston arrived at a church looking for a job in the position of a warden. The priest refused to accept him because he was an illiterate with no education. Out of desperation, Winston decided to commit suicide by lying down on the railway. Prior to do so, he felt a great need for his last smoking; therefore, he searched for a nearby shop selling cigarettes. Walking more than 10 kilometers, Winston did not find any stores and, most surprisingly, there were no railways at all. Suddenly, a thought struck into his mind persuading him to open a small shop by the side of the road and sell cigarettes to people passing by rather than finishing his valuable life. Having only a few dollars, he could open his own small business and after three years, he was taking part in inauguration of his large cigarette factory. On the opening day, many people rushed in to see his plant, and among them there was a child longing for an autograph by Mr. Winston. Astonished was the boy when he recognized the owner of such great factory as an illiterate not being able to sign a piece of paper. The child mentioned that if Winston had been educated, what a more booming business and luxurious life he could have had. But Winston said in that case he would definitely have been a simple warden patrolling a church. The plant surged remarkably and he became well known in a few years’ time. The code of this story can be instructive for consciousness raising, in order to see the methods of success as a higher priority than just education. It should be noted that the story of Mr. Winston has not been proved as a true one, but all the same, the message can still be powerful and educational.
On balance, the mindset that knowledge is better than wealth can do more harm than good, because an effective solution, from these writers’ point of view, should encompass much more than just learning at schools or universities. It is to some extent true to say that learning may result in consciousness raising; however, it is not unheard of to have countless number of scholars not being wise, as against many ordinary people having high levels of understanding and intelligence. So, this is the greatest mistake of human beings to confuse knowing with consciousness and wisdom. Likewise, affluence must not be misunderstood in the same way as salvation. But it can solve at least 50 per cent of our daily problems, thereby, preventing us from confronting a plethora of plights which take a toll on our lives. Accordingly, the rest of the difficulties will be our negative outlooks towards life which can prohibit us from thriving, or some irrevocable maladies not being rubbed out by money. Imminent death, addiction, discordant offspring, or lack of mutual understanding between better halves provides a satisfactory explanation in this regard. Consequently, just being graduated from schools or university at high levels, we cannot claim wisdom. Unless trying to elevate the best parts of human’s creation, namely consciousness and standards of personal morality, we may remain as a pedestrian and narrow-minded person facing a pathetic lifestyle.
In conclusion, there is evidence to indicate that, sometimes, different and comprehensive perspectives can lead to a better result in life, like Winston’s attitude. Although it might seem hard to swallow valuing financial matters above knowledge, we cannot judge severely that learning knowledge can play a prominent part in life. As a result, the writers of this paper tend to think that, in today’s world, when rich people can buy almost everything by money such as graduation certificate or study in any desirable universities, and people will judge you by your expensive car, you had better be well-off rather than a well-educated graduates.
Amir Ramzi - Fereshteh Farahbod