We’ll use the story of a man and his lovely wife in the famous Garden of Eden to explore the influence of knowledge, especially the ones passed to us from loved ones.
We cannot overemphasize the effect of the people you spend time with, the things you see, and the kind of songs you listen to in your life. These are the things that fill up your mind. And one way or another, they happen to influence your actions (whether you are conscious of it or not).
In the first part of The Knowledge Effect, we discussed in detail how knowledge influences the one who possesses it. We looked at the problem of knowledge, how knowledge enslaves, how it affects sight, how knowledge affects change, and the ways we can handle the effects of knowledge. We can’t go over all that again you can read the article here.
But in this article, we will look at how bad we can be at handling problems even when we know so much about them – losing ourselves due to the influence of the environment and the people we have in our lives.
In Genesis chapter 3, the Bible tells a very interesting story, one that gives us a better understanding of the effect of knowledge and the role of people who transfer them to us. Let’s go back to the Garden of Eden. Enjoy the ride!
How it all began
God made Adam plain and simple and placed him in a garden. He had no knowledge of evil – evil did not exist in his mind – and so he couldn’t go for it. Since the idea to sin was not constantly coming up in his mind, he wasn’t thinking of sinning against his maker. Eve was also plain until she met someone. She was exposed to the wrong kind of knowledge and from that moment on everything changed. Eve became a slave to her own knowledge. Let’s explore this in greater detail.
Eves Active Ideas
The kind of mind God gave us is never empty or idle. If you do not fill it consciously with good ideas, it will find a way of filling itself with whatever it can get from the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.
We could decide to think of the mind as a river of information, where the most active details always float to the top. (Our brains have a vital role to play in that too.) The things you are exposed to more often, are the ones that will always creep to the top of the river and as such, the ones you are most likely going to consider and act on. Looking at it from this perspective it is easier to understand how Eve fell, and how we could still fall to the devil’s old tricks and other environmental influences.
Many people make a case for Eve as not being the leader, protector, and sole custodian of God’s directives. While this is true, we can’t ignore the fact that Eve knew about the commandments but still fell for the serpents’ subtle approach.
And in any case, a man really can’t watch his wife for 24 hours a day. We all know that a woman can be more vulnerable in certain conditions and situations but that’s a story for another day.
Looking at Genesis 3, verses 2 and 3, it is evident that Eve knew about God’s instructions. Nevertheless, she could not help but yield to the active idea in her mind – the power to be like God knowing good and evil.
The same thing happens to us today. Even when we know the danger in doing something or living a particular kind of life we may still go on to do these things. Because from time to time we expose our minds to the possibility of doing them. Truth is: no matter how bad or dirty a thing may look at first, if it is constantly and repeatedly presented to us in a way that is “pleasing to the eye and desirable for gaining wisdom,” it will become the active idea in our minds and the easiest to act on.
Advertisers know this so they are not tired of showing you a particular product in an ad over and over again. Because they know that as long as anything is readily available in your mind, it becomes an option. As long as it is an option, sooner or later it will influence your decision.
The question now is: What are your active ideas? What have you done to make sure the ideas in your mind will always be beneficial to you and your fellow human beings?
Take gossips as an example. For a gossip, the active idea is always someone else’s life. That active idea is passed to anyone open to their discussions. Stay with gossip and allow it to fill your mind for some time and you will find that the way you see most people will change.
On the other hand, stay away from gossip for some time and you will notice that the ways you see and relate to people will change too. But this time it will change for the better. The dirt in someone’s life will cease to be a part of your active ideas. Consequently, they won’t be there to influence your decisions and the way you think anymore.
Eve’s thoughts were disturbed, so she fell for the devil’s advances. So many times we fall because we have people around us constantly showing us the wrong things.
Let’s face it, many times we succumb to advances when they keep coming back at us. Every time it comes something is deposited in us. A part of us is slightly changed but we don’t notice it. The active idea is gradually changing but we don’t feel it. It’s just a matter of time before we change completely. While this is going on, you’ll notice that some things that felt really bad at first don’t feel that bad anymore. You feel you are still strong but believe me, you are not as strong anymore. Your defenses are weakening. At this point, all it takes for you to fall or change is the wrong circumstance. That point when you are hungry; a lonely day; a time when you are broke; that make or break situation. That is when you suddenly yield to a bad idea that has slowly been fighting to become the active idea. Without even thinking, you make a choice – you take action or sometimes you allow it to happen. Moments later you begin to question yourself: “Why did I do that? How did that happen?”
That’s probably how the serpent got Eve. One wrong moment. The wrong ideas deposited over time, invigorated by the wrong circumstance suddenly becomes a choice. A choice that Eve will regret for the rest of her life. That’s how some people became liars; that’s how some got seduced; that’s how some lost their virginity; that’s how some lost faith; that’s how some started thinking evil about a good person or relationship – a continuous deposit of wrong ideas. That was Eve’s situation. Now let’s consider her close friend, Adam.
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The People Effect
Eve’s companion, Adam, soon finds himself in a similar situation. But he seems to be up against something more difficult than what Eve faced – a seemingly harmless plea from someone he loved. I can imagine Eve saying “take this, my love.” You know the rest of the story.
This portion of the bible – out of many others – shows it is more difficult to reject ideas and suggestions from friends, loved ones, and mentors than from strangers.
It’s easier to resist advances from that choir girl or boy than from a beautiful maid or seductive man or mistress you are living with. For the former, you will always have quality time to regroup, pray, and strategise. But for the latter, they have more time to attack your emotions and bulldoze your defences.
This was probably Adam’s major problem. We will explore how this works in detail by breaking the people effect into three distinct but well-connected and relate causes.
- Time Spent Together
- Easy Access
- Mentor Effect
(Written by Ekemini Robert. First published on Clurse.com Continue reading below)
Time Spent Together
One reason it is easier for companions to corrupt you is the time they spend with you. The longer they talk to you, play with you, and expose you to their ways, the easier it is for you to see things the way they do, often without ever noticing you are changing.
Secondly, the people you know and love have free and unrestricted access to you, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Because of this, you are less likely to be on the defensive or argue with their ideas. Some of them know exactly when and how to talk to you. (People vary, though, but this is what’s most likely to happen.) This is one of the reasons it was so easy for Eve to get Adam to eat the forbidden fruit.
When it comes to principles and morals, what we are protecting has more to do with our emotions and mentality. If you allow the wrong people into your personal life, you are most likely going to corrupt the way you reason and the way you see things.
Having them in your life makes it easier for them to have access to your faculties. If you happen to like them you are less likely going to protect your mind and thoughts from the wrong kind of information. Sometimes we happen to have people in our lives with corrupt and immoral ideas. The challenge is always keeping yourself without losing loved ones in the process. If you don’t want to lose yourself or give in at the wrong moment, you must learn to promptly recognise when someone is nice, loving, yet passing the wrong messages and signals.
These may be people you can’t separate yourself from at the moment which means they will have access to you whether you like it or not. At times, they are people you depend on or look up to. Separating yourself from them will only mean trouble or disrespect. Depending on the situation, you may not need to separate.
At other times, you’ll need to be conscious and on guard all the time. This looks like a great mountain to climb. Most times, it is. But all you need to do to protect your mind is to firmly regulate the kind of time, conversations, and activities you enjoy. And at the same time, you also have to keep up with activities that will ensure you remain in control of your active ideas. Activities like meditation, reading, prayer, and the rest of them. If at any point you can’t continue with those, then you are on your way to getting lost.
But when it comes to loved ones, the situation and the kind of relationship you have will always be different. So every situation requires a unique approach. The way you deal with a husband will be different from the way you deal with a neighbour.
This category includes anyone older than you and the people you look up to. I’ve seen responsible people who have some hidden and destructive patterns of living. But because they have a great deal of influence on us, we may want to yield or succumb to some really bad lifestyles coming from them. I’m talking about people who happen to be our bosses, mentors, older relatives, and sometimes helpers. They will always have a good deal of influence on you but what happens when you find that you are slowly yielding to some destructive behavioral patterns coming from them. (This is a big subject and this article may not give you the best way out of what you are facing.) Nevertheless, the tips you get from here will go a long way to helping you to cope and to find a solution to whatever it is you are facing.
So many young men and women have succumbed to advances from mentors and bosses. Some girls would never even yield to advances from a guy. But what happens when it’s coming from daddy? How many times have people used the influence they have on others to cause them to do nasty things?
Some people are not forced, they are influenced. Some are not abused, they are seduced.
So many people have been used by mentors, teachers, helpers, mistresses, concerned neighbours, and others who at one time had a positive influence in their lives. It’s been happening and it’s still happening. Bosses are using employees to take a bribe. Teachers are using their students. And it doesn’t matter whether you are male or female. Mistresses are still using and seducing young innocent men. If you are already a victim, it’s time to come to your senses. If you are not yet a victim, be on the lookout. And make sure you never fall for any mentor, superior, or friend who wants to subtly take advantage of you because of the influence they have on you.
Be on Guard
There are a few things you need to know if you don’t want to be a victim of the knowledge passed by immediate influences. I’m not giving you a long list of dos and don’ts because you already have them. But there are three things I want you to take from this reading exercise.
If you must overcome bad influences, you have to:
- Take your principles and beliefs seriously
- Learn to return to base
- Control your environment
Take your principles and beliefs seriously
All the instructions and mental exercises in the world will not help you if you are not resolved to sticking to your principles at all cost, no matter the circumstance or individual involved.
Be ready to make a decision and act on it when you have to. Learn to be serious with your principles. Be bent on keeping the instructions from the Bible. Be assertive and resolute.
There are many good reasons behind every principle we hold on to. And if we have a principle or belief, we must be bent on keeping them. Don’t be casual. Casual people end up used and abused. In the end, they are the ones who live with the consequences of their calmness. Humility is not stupidity, my friend. Be resolute with your beliefs and principles. Be ready to stand by them even if you have to do so alone. If not, you will be influenced or tricked into doing things you would never dream of doing.
Knowledge is not power. It is potential power. It is useless if you don’t act on it. – Stella Damasus
Learn to return to base
In this world, you will never be completely free of influences. And there is no way to separate from some of the people who happen to be in your life at this time. One effective thing you can do is to learn to return to base. It is about being able to do something every day that reminds you of who you really are. Things like prayer, meditation, reading, and other things you do to stay sharp. The day you stop doing these things is the day you start changing without knowing. Try to do these things every single day because you are bound to be exposed to the wrong things on a daily basis.
Control Your Environment
You have to be in control of everything: your Facebook stories, the news apps on your phone, the people you spend time with, the movies you watch, and just about anything that can corrupt you.
This is a good way to regulate the active ideas in your mind. Remember what is bound to happen when your active ideas slowly get filled with bad things. It’s only a matter of time before you break.
The things you see, feel, hear, touch, and smell, all make small deposits into your mind every day. You have to take up the responsibility to control your environment whenever you can.
Make sure you don’t get involved in activities and conversations you are not comfortable with. In the article on decision making, we saw how certain conversations with the wrong people can make you vulnerable. Girls and women, in particular, should learn not to share sensitive personal problems with men. Look for a God-fearing woman you trust and share your problems with her. Communication creates connections. So choose your associates and close friends carefully. If you want to keep yourself from being the next victim of an immediate influence, take control of your environment.