Thursday, April 26, 2012

Words of Wisdom

Wisdom is not the same thing as intelligence.  Intelligence is defined by those guys over at Merriam-Websters as "the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria."    The ability to apply what you know is intelligence; the more you know, the more tools you have in the toolbox, the smarter you are.  Notice that the definition of intelligence doesn't mention IQ; try as they might, there is no standardized test that consistently measures all aspects of intelligence.   The more we know about how the brain works, the more we realize that we don't know. The human brain is just that awesome.

But as smart as people become, we continue to do some pretty stupid things.  For example, John Edwards is an intelligent man.  Yet for all his intelligence, he is not very wise.  He was a likeable  public figure, running for office, and he has an affair.  It was bad enough that he was a married man having an affair, but to think that no one would ever find out?  Sheer stupidity certainly does not equal wisdom, but it makes Edward's behavior all the more appalling.

The people that I consider to be wise are not necessarily the smartest people I know, but they are people who are considerate of others.  If you ask them a question, their answers are insightful, and they often come up with solutions that I hadn't considered.  These are people who don't always tell me what I want to hear.  I respect that. While I am decisive, I am not always right.  That is one lesson that took me a long time to learn; as a younger me, I had to be right no matter what.  I am very glad that I finally figured out that I really don't know much of anything.  The universe is so vast, and I just have this one tiny brain, after all.  Someone else can be right all the time.  I am old enough to know that I don't know.

Is that the beginning of wisdom? 


  1. oh yeah, i hear ya--the older i get i realize, i am saying a lot more--"i have no idea"--great post

  2. Well, I find you wonderfully wise!


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