What is it you know when you have had a good education? You know you do not know anything. A good education humbles you before the truth of all there is to know. Now certainly most graduates of college think they have conquered the world of knowledge. And many will never read much again, convinced they know enough.
They are what I call the seat fillers in college. They came not to be challenged or learn. They want information that already confirms their preconceived ideas. They are destined to hold back society’s forward push. They learn as little as possible so that they are not compromised by knowledge. They will be the same folks who will proclaim climate change is not real and evolution is only a theory and not accepted by nearly ninety-nine percent of scientists.
In today’s back and forth there is almost bias against education and science. Why the bias? In part because college is accessible to everyone. People who were never given a chance or are sometimes looked down upon by people who have an ‘education’ have a tendency to resent those with. And they are especially incensed when their opinions are not valued because of something they had no control over. Universalize education, and resentment and respect might come back.
But the truth is college is a gateway to knowledge. It is not the only gateway. The truth is an education can give you an edge in your thinking. But if you have not read since college your knowledge is limited. You were at the door but you have not gone far inside of it. This is where the ground is level especially if you have a good library nearby. And today internet offers a chance at knowledge. But if you stay with Fox News or other sites that make you comfortable you are the equivalent of a seat filler in college. All this knowledge surrounds you but you flock to what makes you comfortable.
There are so many ways to learn besides college. Museums, lectures, travel, scholarly magazines, and so forth. It does not necessarily take a college education. But all of life’s teachings always depend on the willingness to be a student, to be wrong, and to be open to the truth with an open heart and mind.
My motto is “question everything but be willing to accept anything.” By which I mean I never take anyone’s word including my own. I am willing to let anybody teach and that includes those with whom I disagree. But you have to convince me with facts and love. If you are talking about poverty and have no empathetic feelings toward the poor I will not be convinced of your arguments. I believe there is an intelligence in love that often supersedes facts.
I believe if you do not love you cannot know. Likewise if you cannot listen to others you cannot be smart. There is a way to gain intelligence of all kinds to the open and listening heart [awkward]. The full mind and heart leave no room for anymore intelligence.
I do not believe in the Hannitys, and Becks, and Limbaughs because they could not finish college, but because they also break the rule of nonviolent language. They talk people down to lift their ideas. They start institutes and colleges because they value the education they do not have. So their problem with education is it did not give them permission to always be right. So they reject academia. They cannot stand for criticism. So they have disconnect buttons on their shows and in their lives for unacceptable callers. I do not agree with them in part because they are not honest when they act as though they are one of us when in fact they have multimillion dollars and live in gated communities.
But I digress: if we cannot listen to others, if we are anxious to always hush them or are thinking or what our reply will be while they talk, we will not learn. Listening is the key to intelligence. If we feel hate in our hearts and not inherent worth and dignity for the person in front of you, you will never be smart. This is the crux of the matter. When our society creates such a polarized world, we are dumbing ourselves down. When we develop philosophies that show no respect for the other, we are dumbing ourselves down. When our actions lead to a philosophy of survival of the fittest or one group of people as privileged over another, we are dumbing ourselves down.
So this is my New Year’s Resolution: to live intelligently. This may make me confront the comfortable, love the unlovely, learn from the unwise, and enjoy someone else’s perspective but I will have grown in spirit and mind.