Know Your Enemy: Ignorance

Here I sit in a resort hotel in Florida. I sit here the victim of misinformation. The media, as well as buddies in the vicinity told me that it was really cold down here. In light of that information, I packed all long-sleeve shirts, along with a couple of sweatshirts.

I must learn to do my research a bit better. The weather upon arrival was a brisk 75 degrees. For a boy that has seen precious few days above 30 degrees in the past month or so, this was a tad warm for me. However, I will suck it up, roll my sleeves up, and get on with the business of learning.

As I sat in my hotel room enjoying the beautiful view from my window, I decided to take my daily trip through So much is happening on any given day in the fire service that I must make a concerted effort to stay up with events. Even so, I sometimes begin to wonder if I really understand the complex interactions that occur on an ongoing basis.

Once again my dear friend Francis Brannigan served as the spark plug to fire up my thinking cap. His column is entitled "Know Your Enemy." Within the confines of that space he continues to share his wealth of knowledge on the challenges we will all be called upon to face, from time to time. We owe a great deal to this man for his determination to tell the unpopular story.

He has served as a role model for me. I too am working to teach you about the enemy. Only in my case, the enemy involves a number of concepts, as a way of life. For you see the real baseline enemy of us all is IGNORANCE, as supported by its henchmen, STUPIDITY and COMPLACENCY.

I believe that it is very important to spend a moment here defining terms. To say that someone is ignorant means quite simply, that they are unaware of something. For example, I am ignorant of the exact population of the State of New Jersey at this time. I do not have that fact at my command. However, I am willing to commit to the fact that there will be times that I will need to know data such as this.

However, I am not stupid, which is to say, dense, unintelligent, dull, or dim-witted. When the time comes that I need to know the population of my state, I will know how and where to find it. I will not be heard to say that there is no reason to learn about the latest population in the state. I will not quote the population of New Jersey, as I may have known it to be in 1975, just because I am comfortable with that figure. I will not dismiss people who know the population, simply out of envy or jealousy.

Unfortunately, there are far too many amongst us in the fire service that are perfectly willing to cruise along using knowledge that came and went during the era of the President Ford and President Carter (no relation), which is to say many years ago. Lest you believe that I work hard to make this stuff up, let me share an episode that happened this past week.

I look forward to your email commentaries each week, and work hard to answer them all as quickly as possible. If your question or problem is interesting, unique, or challenging, I might just send you an email with my telephone number, asking you to call and chat for a while.

This happened again this past week. A younger fire chief sent an email asking for some serious advice. I sent him my number and asked him to call me. A few hours later, he called and asked for a bit of advice. It seems that he had beaten an older chief in the recent fire department elections. However that person was now an assistant chief, thanks to the same election. This individual now seemed to be actively campaigning to be a pain in everybody