The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow the words of this law.
These words are taken from the Old Testament. Whether you follow the tenets of Judaism or Christianity, there is much to be learned here. Admittedly, I look at these words from the perspective of a Christian. If you do not follow the Christian faith, there is still much that you can benefit from by closely examining these words and what they can mean for your life. They can even have a tremendous value for the martial artist, self-protection coach, and the security professional. Don’t believe me? Well, hear me out.
Let’s briefly examine what is being said in this passage. In life, there are hidden things. These things may be knowledge, wisdom, skills, or experiences. What we do not know or have does not belong to us because we have never possessed it. The knowledge and experiences in life we have experienced in life is to be cherished as our own because it has shaped who we are and how we experience the world around us. For the person of faith, we see this as a direct interaction with God. He has chosen not to reveal certain things in life to us because we may not be ready for it, it may not be beneficial for us, or it simply may not be in line with his plan for our life. For the person that does not follow a religious faith, a similar principle can hold true. That person cannot claim to have knowledge and wisdom associated with an unknown experience because they do not possess the required knowledge associated with that lived experience. It does not belong to them.
Further, knowledge gained through the lived experience, better known as wisdom, serves as a guidepost in which we can better teach and train our children to become better people. What some of us learned the hard way can be used as a teaching tool that will hopefully dissuade our children from making the same foolish mistakes we did along our path in life. What we have not experienced becomes much more challenging when teaching our children to navigate the problems of life. We may rely on a moral code. We may seek the advice of a person of wisdom in which we trust. We are all different. People have experienced life differently. Taking these words from that perspective, God, or whatever you choose to believe, has selectively hidden some sources of knowledge from us while revealing other things. In this essence, life is seen as it truly is, and that is an individualized experience in a broader social theater.
In modern parlance, these words contained in scripture are nothing new.
- If you don’t know, you don’t want to know.
- You’re not ready for this.
- Mind your own business.
- Baby steps. Milk before meat.
As a martial arts teacher, these words are an omnipresent reminder of the challenges in not only guiding a student down a path that is highly personal, but also foreign to them. It may be difficult to find an instructor that has not faced the difficulty of having to slow a student down that earnestly wants to gain much knowledge, but they have not gained the necessary mastery of the basic techniques to prepare them for advanced study. On more than one occasion, I suffered through hearing my instructor tell me that there are certain things I was not ready to learn. Believe it or not, after 28 years in the martial arts and after being with him for 24 of those years, there are times when he still tells me that. He is the Master; I am the student.
I had a student that was a Black Belt that in total had far more years of experience in karate than I did. He knew of my instructor, and thus wanted that knowledge. There was just one problem, and that was his desire to skip over learning the basics our way in order to get to the “good stuff.” In fairness to him, that is not uncommon. That simply makes him normal. As instructors, it is our job to ensure that basics-those things that are revealed to us and the student-are sound. Only then can the hidden things be revealed.
Let’s also look at this from a different perspective. There are things in life that should remain hidden from us for our own good. There are things in life that once seen, they can never be unseen and can have lifelong damaging effects on our emotions, thought processes, and perceptions of life and those around us. As a criminologist that is also a professional martial arts and security coach, I am tasked with giving our clients the proper tools needed to navigate the dangerous waters of life. Sometimes that requires pulling back the veil, ever so slightly, on the horrors of life in order to allow them to understand what they may be defending themselves against in a dangerous situation.
Not everyone can elaborate on the details of what it feels like to spend time in a morgue. I once worked in a morgue early on in my career. The work of the pathologists was indeed fascinating as they determined the causes of death for those whose time on Earth had come and gone. But there were also the ancillary experiences that unless a person was there to experience them, the true nature of what they mean are hidden from them. The smell of a decomposed body is something that can only be experienced. In a murder case, you are left to wonder what the victim was feeling and thinking as you give the police a bloody bra with multiple holes in it from a knife that was the instrument that took her life. I can relate these things to you, the reader, because I have experienced them. Unless you have experienced them firsthand, those life experiences remain hidden from you. For me, they are with me forever, but they can be imparted as knowledge to my students.
There are things in life that once seen, they can never be unseen. Many people see pornography as harmless entertainment. The serial killer Ted Bundy recounted how viewing pornography led to the formation of his views of women as mere objects. There is ample evidence in the scholarly literature today that suggests that regularly viewing pornography lowers the sex drive of males. It degrades their views of women; in that they are only seen as objects that satiate sexual desire. Taken at face value, it stands to reason that there are some aspects of the human existence that should be kept secret from us, as Deuteronomy 29:29 suggests.
Life is a mystery. Life is also a drama that unfolds day by day, and it unfolds uniquely for each of us as we travel along our individual paths. Whether you are a person of faith that takes heed of the words of the Bible, or if you can see these words simply as a maxim of wisdom, a good teacher understands that there are some lessons that must only be given when the proper time and context arises. From a martial arts and self-protection perspective, that means ensuring a proper mastery of basic techniques has been achieved before moving on to more advanced principles and techniques. In a security and self-protection context, an instructor must understand that there are those in the course that may have experienced horrendous trauma and may not benefit from being exposed to the horrors of our experiences.
In short, teaching is a about context. It involves knowing what to teach, and to whom it should be taught. A good teacher understands this, and as my instructor once told me: He taught me everything I know. He did not teach me everything he knows. Sometimes, life has to be your teacher.