Truth - There is a difference between intelligence, intellect, and wisdom. Intelligence refers most often to feelings whereas intellect is rooted in a distinguishing facts. Wisdom is having experience, knowledge, or good judgement. Oftentimes the words are used interchangeably but the distinction is key particularly in a world that values certain demonstrations of intelligence. What does it mean to be smart?

"I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing" Socrates

There's this commonly held belief that people with certain educational attainments or who hold some job titles have this omniscient infinite knowledge. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, and others with MDs, Ph.Ds, JDs, and all the other terminal degree letters behind their names are who comes to mind. When you have had the access and opportunity to have such an extensive formalized education, there is this level of social respect that is also gained but is it placed rightfully or not? Those are the some of the occupations whose duties and perks often take over the lives of the people behind them. There's never a moment you're not doctor so and so, or judge this and that. When people refer to you by your occupation rather than you're name you've joined this elite facet of society that we place on a pedestal. These people are more than their jobs, and in fact while they might be stellar at their work, outside of their area of expertise, they may actually know very little. We live in a society of specialists. We outsource and privately contract all the different aspects of the work we need done because it's impractical to be a jack of all trades, and simultaneously a master of none. College is where you see it most clearly. Students and their respective departments have strong drawn lines of fields of study. If you need to know about the marsupial gestational periods you would go to the zooology department, but you would not ask those who worked and studied there about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Greco/Roman sculpting techniques, or the detriments of fracking. We need to dispel the conception that some people are smart are just plain not. Smart is relative.

Dr. Ben Carson is the perfect example. The man was a brilliant visionary when it came to neurosurgery. If I had brain aneurysm he might be at the top of my list of people to call, but when it comes to literally anything else including basic human rights, bipartisan politics, or historically accurate mythology, I would call actually anyone else. A revolutionary doctor but outside of the operating room, he was absolutely insufferable, dangerously ignorant, and grossly misinformed. We have to do away with the notion that we should always know. We shame people in our lives for not knowing things and forget that at some point in our lives we too did not know what we know. While there is of course collective knowledge, those generally agreed upon things people are supposed to know in a community, we might overestimate how widespread certain sentiments are. We have to realize that we know and the epistemology behind it  all while keeping in mind that no one else knows the same things we do, or in the same ways. There's a reason you call a plumber when you have a leak not a paleontologist. Wisdom and smarts says to rely on others when our problems are beyond our purview.

It's okay to say that you don't know, contrary to popular belief. I think we're expected to know everything and while we know it's literally an impossible feat, we're supposed to dedicate our lives to doing in vain anyway. That patronizing arrogance we show when people don't know something we do is completely toxic. How could someone not know what I know? Why don't they understand what I do? Where were they educated? We create this hostile environments where we scoff at people who happen to know, or know as well as we do instead of doing the kinder thing of teaching, explaining, and helping. Even I do it myself when someone mentions something or someone I am not familiar with I struggle to just admit that I don't know, and to ask for them to share their experience with me. There's this embarrassment, or that's what we perceive will come our way if we say we don't know. Maybe we think it's weakness, foolishness, or vulnerability. It needs to be reframed as strength, authenticity, and relationship building. It should be lauded instead of belittled and antagonized.

Especially during this purgatory of a political season I wish more people would use the phrases "I'm not educated enough to have an opinion" or "I need to do more research" instead of  giving their uninformed input. Our society wants have an opinion on anything and everything, regardless of its validity and depth. It's actually witless, lazy, and vacuous. I respect people who admit their unfamiliarity with a topic more than those who clearly spew nonsensical bombast. There are times and things we should know about that who determines the agenda of what is need to know information for the general population varies from locale to locale. I also strive to appreciate the different ways of learning and the varied gifts that each and every person has. It can be as simple as me being a short answer oriented person versus answering multiple choice questions. There are others who are talented in other ways that cannot be measured by standardized tests, and more so that have exceptional abilities that we do not appreciate because they do not fit in to the grandiose narratives that we ourselves subscribe to. Let people be and learn the ways that most benefit them. Mix up the pedagogy, meet people where they are, and leave room for error. We all make mistakes, and there times where we will not know. Refrain from giving an answer just to give one, be smart and ask for help, or find your own info. X


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