No matter how intelligent you think you are, there will always be things that you don’t know, things that you can’t know. You can study every textbook and there will still be the unknown unknowns, because how can you find the answer to things that you don’t know the question to?
This condition is one that afflicts the entire human race. Perhaps this ailment is the most fatal of them all. We can prepare for every situation possible, but we can’t prepare for what we don’t know is coming. This causes the demise of many.
Referencing back to Shakespeare’s Othello, the unknown unknowns of each character led to the complete undoing of all. Desdemona didn’t know that her mentioning Cassio all of the time would drive Othello to jealously. Cassio didn’t know that Iago was using him as a pawn in his scheme. Emilia didn’t know what the outcome of her taking the handkerchief would be. The list goes on and on.
This curse of the unknown seems like an impossible game, one where the unknowns will always win. It seems futile to try and fight back because how can we win against an opponent that we do not know is even there?
The only solution I can come up with is to consult as many different people as possible. The saying goes, “two heads are better than one”, but I think as many heads as possible is better than one. Together, the pool of known things may be substantial enough to overcome the unknown things. Because even if you can’t see something right in front of you, maybe someone else can. Getting different views on the situation will allow the issue to be approached from all different sides.
In Othello, if the characters had just consulted one another, the whole crisis would have been averted. If Desdemona had just asked Othello what was bothering him, she might have been able to quell his fears. If Othello had just spoken to Emilia about Desdemona’s supposed infidelity, then Iago might have been discovered much earlier.
We must band together if we even want to stand a chance in this endless battle against the unknown unknowns. And remember, we have one weapon up our sleeve that the unknowns can’t ever touch: we will always know for certain that there are things we don’t know and cannot know. If we can put aside our pride for just a moment, our ignorance may be our greatest tool. Once we admit that we do not know everything, we can begin to seek out people who know what we don’t know.
This is the only way to win the war.