“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.”
Ahh Mr. Russel, I know so very little about you other than that quick Google search. The words leaping from the screen, striking me in the forehead, there really isn’t a better way of putting the it.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve actually been moved enough by a single person in my life to actually write a full entry, most of the time people just warrant a mention, maybe a paragraph. This particular topic hits a lot closer to home though. In fact there’s going to be a slight aura of hypocrisy in this writing.
For those of you that have left your teenage years behind, by which I mean as young as 25+. Do you recall what it was like when you were just out of your teens? When everything made sense, and you knew so much better than everyone around you. No? .. Damn okay, well hopefully some of you do because I know I do. When I was in my late teens extending into my mid 20’s I knew I was smarter than everyone around me. The possibility of being out done by anyone was ludicrous to me.
The funny thing is, during this time I still suffered with absolutely no self-confidence in myself. I knew I was smarter than everyone but didn’t mean I thought I was better.
Then it happened, I no longer found myself dazzling people by my smarts. The act of simply going on what I deemed to be common sense, was being out done by people actually putting the effort in. I hit university and after doing a few advanced courses it became clear that raw intelligence isn’t enough to excel… No. Scratch that… It was more than that. I had a bit of an epiphany (man I use that word a lot when talking about my past). Intelligence is a relative term.
After all the mindless debates I would have with one of my best friends Mr. Paul Vincent, it finally dawned on me that although it would be over-simplified to say that no one was “smarter” than another. However, I didn’t deem the contrary to be anymore justified.
Once I came to this conclusion I finally understood the value of wisdom over intelligence. Once upon a time I could tell you every tiny detail of every piece of silicone in my old Pentium 2, and how it all worked. These days I usually just go to my buddy Moves when I got to do anything to extreme when it comes to technology. I still can hold my own in conversation with the common Joe, but I’m pretty far from the tech geek I used to be. Back then if I had a friend that was upset about something going on the best advice I could offer would be “it’ll be okay” as I just rehash clichés I’ve seen on TV. I spent too much time wrapped up in knowledge that I didn’t completely grasp the human condition.
Given the trade off I am glad I didn’t keep up on the path I was going. The group that I initially found myself being apart of when I first move to this town was.. erm, I guess “led” if that is the appropriate word… by an interesting fellow to say the least. The freaky part is, I see a lot of parallels in his personality in flashes of a younger me. I’m convinced that this particular example is EXACTLY what I would’ve ended up becoming if I had stayed the course.
Wow, I honestly didn’t draw this connection until right now, but .. it’s so clear to me right now. I was in Grenfell for Computer Science/Business. A four year program that provided a degree in each. It was a great plan.. but, it was in my 3rd year (Well second of the course as I just had fun with some general studies the first year) when I got a little disinterested in what I was doing and became more fascinated in the people around me and why they do what they do… I wasn’t a powerful socialite or anything but human interaction became much more intriguing.
Among my own friends I was best kind, but in a crowd I was hardly noticeable. I just dove into my games with my friends… I would’ve ended up in some IT position somewhere and never leaving the world of my games. I would’ve basically been this guy I met out here.
Sorry, it’s not often I come up with this kind of revelation mid-post. So I figured I’d share the moment.
Back on track…
Wait, where was I? …
Ahh screw it.
When it comes to being “intelligent” you certainly have a right to be proud of it. It isn’t something that is easily obtained for a lot of people. There are too many people who spend their entire lives trying to feel smart. Endless bouts with education and classes trying to get that level of intelligence that’ll make them feel good about themselves, and never really obtain it. Academic intelligence is not something that can be achieved by everyone, and some will have it a lot easier than others.
Having knowledge and knowing facts is far less valuable in my opinion than the ability to comprehend and understand them. Telling me the molecule composition of a snowflake show some intelligence… being able to describe the feeling of it as it lands on you tongue is understanding. See the difference?
Thing is, when it comes to my intelligence I am actually confident. I’m actually a lot more confident about the degree of my own intelligence that frankly I’ve outgrown the need to prove it to everyone I meet. This is where we FINALLY get to the part that inspired this whole rant. The inspiration of this post began with friend of mine.. well actually what I would best describe as a 20 year old version of myself. (before I made the realization that intelligence isn’t a competition. It’s not something that needs to be displayed at every opportunity, especially irrational ones.)
The real problem is that there really isn’t anything that I’m going to be able to say or do to make any kind of difference on anyone that is still going through this phase. I guess for some it’s the natural stage of progression, 6 years ago I know how stubborn I was in the exact same way. I guess the problem that is arising from this is that there’s still that inner child within me that wants to pick apart inconsistencies and psychoanalyze the reasoning behind the behavior…
Of course most of the time I then remember how it was like when I shared that mentality and how futile that actually is. So I just laugh it off and wait for the subject to change.
What I feel people need to understand is that as Bertrand Russel put it. The only people who are always so certain of themselves are fools and fanatics. Anyone that truly has the correct combination of wisdom and knowledge will understand that doubt is actually more human, more enlightened… and dare I say “smarter”.
There is no one person on this planet who knows it all. Even grand masters and scholars do not know it all… that are proficient in their given field but even within their field they are constantly experiencing new things and discovering new aspects of it. In the midst of one of these particular conversations a friend decided to quote Men In Black to support his claim on whatever it was we were talking about.. right now I will do the same.
Coincidentally, it’s the very next line after what he quoted.
“Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow. “
Everything from language, to theology, to science… is constantly changing.
I stand by my two little mantras of life.
The smartest man in the room, is the one that doesn’t have to show it. He doesn’t need to.
If given a choice between the two, I’ll give wisdom the higher priority over knowledge.
Anyway, enough of this rant, I have another entry that needs to be written heh.