What Does It Mean to Know Something?


In the song Say Hey (I Love You) by Michael Franti And the Spearheads, the singer describes a cruel, distorted world that’s over complicated and finding the simple joys in life despite this.

He says “Seems like everywhere I go, the more I see the less I know. But I know one thing, that I love you.”

However how do we know that we love someone or that someone loves us? How do we know what love is? What does it mean to know something?

For example, I was talking to my little brother the other day about religion because he decided to switch from Baptist to Catholic to a nondenominational form of Christianity. He’s so young that something simple as a song in the school choir or a rebellious YouTube video can sway his whole view of religion and outlook on life. He said he didn’t believe in the pope anymore, and I don’t believe in him either. However after asking him why he said “because I saw this video on YouTube that just opened my eyes” or something similarly corny along those lines. I laughed and said “So you’re just not going to believe in a pope because someone tells you not too?” and that built up into a bigger question of “well how do you know that God is real? Because someone told you to.”

He said “I know God is real because of all the miracles his put in the bible.”

I like to mess with him so I then in a know-it-all fashion replied “So you believe in God because he’s written in a book, that was written by men years ago and was given to you by your parents?”

He then said “But yeah I believe in God because the preacher speaks to me. I can feel that I’m a Christian.”

“So now we believe in God because a man in a robe told us to? Because he told us a cool story that we could connect with? Did you really choose to be a Christian? Or did your parents that were conditioned by previous generations thus condition you to be a Christian as well?”

I’m not saying that I don’t believe in God or the bible or Christianity. A part of religion is understanding your belief system rather than systematically following the rules, so it’s important to question it. However at the time I just liked messing with my brother. I even started eating cake and when he asked for some I said “No, I’m not even eating cake I’m eating broccoli  You only think it’s no broccoli because someone somewhere in time told you that this substance shall be called cake. However if I believe in my head that his is broccoli just as much as you believe that is cake then what makes my reasoning any less than yours? How do we really know which one is true?”

Merriam Webster’s Online Diction defines knowledge as “the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning,” but what is the reasoning? For example, how do you know your mother loves you? Because she says so or she buys you things and takes you places?

This is how I know my mother loves me. It’s not something I can see; it’s something I feel. It’s how she always puts me above herself. It’s not the fact that she hugs me, but the way she does so. It’s how she always encourages me to do better. It’s how even though she can’t cook she’ll try her hardest to give me the best food she can whip up. It’s how she always tries to keep me happy even though she know she can’t or how she goes out of her way for me. I can tell she loves me not simply by her actions, but the emotions behind them. I can tell she loves me by her compassion, empathy, determination, drive, trust, and how much she cares.

The way I figure out this truth is with the heart. We often equate knowledge to the mind in its way of figuring out logic. However simple facts and rules and even more complex parts of society can all become debatable. However emotions like euphoria, despair, anguish, love, and fear are all more tangible in our ways of knowing because we can feel that they exist. The way to knowing something is through the heart because the heart is pure and created by God rather than ourselves or society. We need to not only be in tune with our desires, but be connected to the information it tells you in correlation with the truth. To me, knowing something means having such as strong passionate feeling that there is no doubt in your mind of it being untrue because the feeling comes from you internally rather than being fed to you externally. Thus the answer to knowing why God loves you or knowing your mom cares about you is because unlike the name of cake/broccoli/your chosen vernacular, you can feel it’s true for yourself with your heart.

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