Lifestyle Feature: ‘Knowledge Is Power’ – Dr. Roderick Claybrooks, M.D.

I experienced a disturbing situation when my wife and I were trying to purchase our first home. My sister-in-law had informed us of a house that she had recently visited. She told us about it just in case the situation did not work out for her and her husband. We would then be in position to purchase it. She described what sounded like a beautiful place to live. As she continued to tell us about the home, she pointed out that it had a library.  At that very moment, my wife’s younger cousin burst into a chuckle and said, “Library? Why do you need a library?”  I didn’t say anything to him, but it bothered me that he found that to be so amusing. He thought that it was a joke. Surely to use a room and fill it with knowledge must be a waste of time, right?

It bothers me that this is the mentality of some of our youth. I have come across too many of our youth who feel that reading and learning is for sissies or nerds and that it’s not cool. This is how we have been fooled. This type of thinking is the reason why we need to re-educate and re-program some of our youth. This type of thinking is what causes us to be left behind the rest of society and causes us to crowd the welfare offices of America, begging for handouts. It can lead to a life of unfulfilled dreams causing second, third and fourth generations to be born, live and die in the housing projects of the urban slums.

Some parents have allowed outside forces to dictate to their children what is and what is not important. Unfortunately, some of our children believe that education is not important. By the time they do find out just how important it is they have gotten themselves into situations that make it difficult for them to go back to school.

Others, instead of focusing on education, have engaged in physical relationships that have produced children. They feel that now they can’t go back because of work obligations that they must honor to feed the family. Others have accumulated so much debt that decreasing their work hours to attend classes seems virtually impossible because all of the bills that they have to pay.

Since I am not that old, I can distinctly remember how uncool it was to even appear to be smart. If you received a grade higher than a C+, people were looking at you like you were an alien.  You would immediately be dismissed as a nerd and teased, taunted, and placed into exile for getting good grades. All the while not realizing how foolish we really were.

If we’re really honest with ourselves, the concept of being smart, as the wrong thing to be, is actually one of the dumbest thoughts to have. Why would you not want to be smart? Who was the idiot who said that there is glory in being dumb? What is so cool about being dumb? What can you accomplish by being dumb? How much money can you make when you are dumb? Who can you help when you are dumb? Think about it and decide what road in life you want to take.

Now is the time to understand the importance of knowledge and the difference that it can make in our lives. We must not just obtain knowledge, but we must also focus on the application of knowledge. Knowledge can no longer be something that we stumble upon. It must become something that we diligently seek if we are to ever change our circumstances.

It will do you no good to accumulate knowledge if you are not going to apply it to your life. Knowing that a red light means stop doesn’t do you any good if you continue to drive right through the intersection.

Knowledge is critical to your survival in this harsh world, since ignorance is so dangerous today. I know that there are many places in life that you want to go and I promise you that knowledge can get you there, once it starts to become a large part of your life.

We must get our children to understand the importance of education. They need to understand the importance of all forms of education, not just a university education. They must understand that education is vital, not optional. Reading should not just be something that you do when you are bored, it should be the primary thing that you do.

Knowledge is power. The problem is that everyone wants power but very few want to do what it takes to obtain it. We want the praise and benefits that come with power, but we don’t want to work for it. Knowledge does not just fall from the sky. We must seek it diligently. I believe that once our children are taught the importance of knowledge then the problems that ignorance creates will diminish.

“My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge” – Hosea 4:6



Dr. Claybrooks, M.D., is one of the youngest board-certified Metro-Detroit spine surgeons among the elite African-American surgeons in the United States who specializes in complex spine surgeries and is author of “The Black Student’s Guide To Success.”