You have seen, I am sure, a lot of highly educated people do and say seemingly dumb things: doctors smoking, teachers braiding children, and extremely religious physicists. There are also people who don’t “know” a lot and can’t seem to learn and yet maneuver through life quite successfully. It seems intelligence as we define it in terms of cognitive acuity has little to do with wisdom. So, what then is the difference between intelligence and wisdom? To me intelligence is the ability to know things through learning. Intelligence allows you to gather information and retain it. Wisdom, on the other hand, is the capacity to know when and how to use whatever bit of information you know.
Think of it this way: You can go to the hardware store, and if you have the money, buy every tool they sell. You can also buy all the material there is. Actually, buy the whole store. Now what? If you don’t know how to use these tools and materials you don’t make use of any of them. You have essentially hoarded stuff. But, let’s imagine you are an ingenious maker/tinkerer who has no money who uses readily available materials and simple tools to make or fix things. The former is “intelligent” and the latter is wise.
There are people who love to gather information and keep it like treasure. The more information, the better. They have lots and lots of random data or maybe even very focused data like a heart surgeon might. I am sure you have come across them. There are two types: Infoholics: Those addicted to the consumption of information and Infoarders: those who hoard information even the most irrelevant kind. Neither kind is wise. Those who can see the connection between disparate information and life experience to create insights, elegant solutions to problems, advancement of knowledge, comfort others, and enlighten are indeed wise.
Over the course of many years, many decades really, and through many hardships, I’ve come to learn a few things about life and develop an understanding about resilience and adaptation and transcendence that I would like to share with my readers over the course of several posts. I hope some of you will gain new insights, enhance your perspective, be comforted by them, and make use of these in wise ways.
Each post will be cued by a simple statement and followed by a description, expansion of ideas and examples. I hope you will join me with your comment and sharing your own wisdom so that collectively we can build a more resilient, thoughtful, wise and thriving community.