Walking a Path
That one who generates knowledge can be likened unto a scout evokes images of walking a path, which perhaps can be an analogy to the process of generating and applying knowledge. Let us expand on this analogy. Firstly, walking a path is a collective enterprise, not an isolated act; a path invites the participation of many and can be known by all. A path has an end point and necessitates a structured, defined, and logical progression forward; but the actual course is not a straight line – thus, progress is mapped out, by multiple groups, through periodic reflection on current position and factors, at which point, the course and direction can be adjusted. In this way, uncharted territory and related lines of exploration can be charted, and a fuller picture of the landscape can be obtained. Walking a path implies constant movement and active effort, and yet the pace is not fixed; all strides are accommodated. Those who walk this path require skills and abilities, qualities and attitudes, and it is through walking with others that these capacities are developed, not in isolation or off the path – there is no “practice” path; all actions are within a social context. And of course, this path is not mapped out from the beginning; the horizon in the distance beckons those who walk and provides the general direction and goal, while the lamps that illumine their footsteps are the systems of knowledge and practice of science and religion.
One note about pace. Although it is fostering a natural and unified process of forward movement with others that is important, and not reaching the end goal in a disunified manner, still there must be value placed on the speed of exploration. The rate of progress of organic social processes can be increased, while still maintaining requisite characteristics of unity, justice, and humility. The relationships between individuals, communities, and institutions, all walking this path, and their ability to engage in an ongoing learning process – defined as consultation, action, reflection on action, and study of science and religion – is what will determine the pace of progress. In short, as has been a theme throughout, the advancement of civilization is propelled by the generation of knowledge within a learning mode and the development of proper relationships between its three protagonists.