We call them experts for a reason. They are supposed to know exactly what they're doing, and they are supposed to have a wealth of experience on which to draw. We consult with experts regularly. We rely on them to provide services. The experts do their jobs, and we trust them. But wait--is it really the best idea to rely on experts for everything without taking it upon yourself to know what you're asking for? And, if you're not an expert at something, is it really in your best interest, or anyone else's, to choose not to do what you CAN do in that area?
The example that dwells with me frequently is when adults who do not identify as singers pretty much refuse to sing anything and on the rare occasions that they do sing, they apologize for it or defer to other people who are experts. Not that I'd want just anyone who can carry a note in a bucket to be entrusted with the directorship of a chorus or a studio full of vocalists, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility that everyone be able to sing and not feel ashamed. It's certainly part of my mission as a music educator, even if I end up teaching orchestra again as I would prefer. People shouldn't feel as though they need to be experts to sing.
When it comes to issues of medicine, it is very irritating to doctors when the patients think that they know more than they do. After all, they're the experts, right? Just because we can read about diseases online doesn't necessarily mean that we have them. I'm recalling the hypochondriac character on Scrubs who decided that he had Yaba virus, which made no sense, and the doctor thought he was out of his mind.
However, it IS our job, even though we might not be medical experts, to be involved in our health. We need to eat well, get off our behinds, and be forthcoming with any information about abnormalities when talking to our doctors. We need to keep track of medical data for ourselves or whomever is in our care, because even though they go back and check it, it's nice to have as a talking point. We need to empower ourselves with as much information as we can get.
So instead of being either an annoying hypochondriac who spends too much time on Wikipedia or a person who just sits there and waits for a magic drug, we should take charge of our own health in the way that works best for us and our families.
In other areas of life, we'd do better if we knew what we were talking about. Even if we choose to pay for a certain service or seek consultation about something, it helps to be more informed. If you know a bit about cars, you can better describe to your mechanic what problem you have. Even without extensive knowledge of agriculture, you can still inform yourself about food production practices and decide what types of food you'd prefer for yourself.
There are experts in child development, too. You don't need to be one, but if you have a child, it's a subject that should be on your mind. It is remarkable how many parents think that their children are being bad when, in fact, their children are behaving appropriately for their age, and the parents expected something impossible for them (I'm thinking of toddlers being made to sit still and quiet at a restaurant with leisurely service practices and the parents are upset when the child fails to comply, or of toddlers knocking stuff over when it's right in front of them).
We need experts in our lives. It is important that certain subjects be addressed correctly. But we can do the experts a favor and know a bit about what we need before we go to them. Furthermore, we should feel free to take upon ourselves the "non-expert" tasks in a field. We can't fix our hearts or prescribe medicine, but we can learn about the lifestyle choices that protect our hearts. Not everyone can play an instrument, but it wouldn't hurt if everyone knew what they were. And, like it or not, we need to be experts on our own kids.
Are you an expert in something? Do you want to be?