Dirk Knemeyer

The Power of Shared Knowledge

Originally published on the Facio blog

Growing up, arranged marriage was treated as a punchline. It was presented in movies and other popular culture as an outdated, senseless tradition that sought only to control the young and run contrary to American notions of freedom.

To be clear: no, this article will not suggest that we go back to a world of arranged marriages. People exercising their own choice to select a life partner – or even IF they select a life partner – is the more humane approach. But it is folly to discount centuries-old traditions as ignorant and senseless; we have tossed out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. Indeed, in discarding arranged marriage we did away with the valuable knowledge and experience of elders.

It is a statistical fact that people with particular similarities are more likely to have lasting, successful marriages. Similar cultural backgrounds. Similar socio-economic groups. Similar religious and spiritual grounding. Complementary personality traits. In trying to espouse American values of freedom our popular culture focused on romantic comedies with quirky, unexpected, and decidedly different boy-meets-girl stories. This cheeky brand of entertainment entirely ignored the fact that these relationships are statistically less likely to work. While, certainly, wonderful relationships come out of improbable pairings the reality is a competent old-world matchmaker would probably be more likely to give you a happy pairing. It would just be with a less exotic choice, someone more like you.

A lot of what we do with Facio flirts with seeming to tell people what they should do. It is not our intent. We can present data, insight, statistics, probabilities. But we can’t tell you one way or another what you should do. Those choices are yours; we just want them to be more informed. We want you to make the choices, but we want to – with our modern tools and frameworks – serve the same role the wise and experienced once served when the world was slower and smaller. This brand of shared knowledge, passed from the old to the young, has been devalued on our culture. It shouldn’t be and, to what degree we are able to contribute wisdom, we surely intend to do so.

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