Grokking the word 'Grok'
Throughout, Stranger in A Strange Land, the word 'Grok' is used constantly. Since it is a Martian word, it is very unusual for us. To 'grok' or 'grokking' has many meanings but can simply be put as to deeply understand something. The book offers a clearer definition that explains that to 'Grok' means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed. to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science and it means as little to us (because we are earthlings as color means to a blind man(Stranger in a Strange Land). We do not have a word in English for understanding something as deeply as Michael and the Martians can, mainly because we cannot understand anything like this. Our World is always in such a rush to get things done and will never sit and really ponder a decision.Humans always make decisions with haste but always fail to really think and 'grok' the fullness of their decisions. We have so many wars and so much hardship because we, in essence, do not 'grok' each other. When talking to Jubal about the Martians, Michael said, "You see by their (the Martians) standards, we are diseased and crippled - the things we do to each other, the way we fail to understand each other, our almost complete failure to grok with one another, our wars and diseases and our famines and cruelties- these things are insane to them. They will decide to kill humans out of mercy".
The Martians 'grok' decisions to fullness and this takes thousands of years. The decision to destroy the 3rd rock from the sun will take a minimum of 500 years and maximum of 5000 years. Humans make decisions with such quickness that we sometimes do not understand the consequences of them.For example, We can order a triple Decker bacon cheeseburger that is just dripping in grease pretty quickly and have no trouble eating it, only to find out later that that 1500 calorie burger does not sit right with your stomach. If we sit back and understand or 'grok' our decisions we could have chose a better food. Michael can 'grok the fullness of everyone he meets, everything he sees, feels, hears, and thinks about. When he 'grokked the grass in Ben's living room, he understood that the grass was meant to be stepped on by joining with the grass and understand what the grass feels. The term 'grok' may be weird to us but it really does have real world applications. I doubt that our society or government will ever wait 500 years to declare war on another nation but if we could really understand each other and what the consequences of war are, we would never be in conflict. 'Grokking' really can help in decision making and will help you if you understand it. Next time, before you "jump the gun" and make a decision, just sit back and really ponder what consequences this decision could have, why you are making this decision, and what it means to whatever or whoever else involved. If we 'grokked' each other and everything like Michael does in Stranger in A strange Land, I doubt that the world we live in would be so messed up.