Have you ever told someone you’ve seen a movie when you actually only watched the trailer? Maybe even gone so far as to share your opinions on the film? No…I hope. Because it would be a pretty lacking review if you did.
Well, frankly that is how I feel about life. As though we are constantly trying to judge things after only having a sneak peak of whatever they are. No matter what it pertains to, most people – myself included – feel very comfortable formulating a stubborn opinion on anything. Especially when they have had very little or no exposure to it. And because of that, too often am I remind of how unfounded most all of my views really are.
It’s a protective instinct. To judge quickly with the least amount of information available whether something is safe, dangerous, good, or bad. And thanks to that instinct, the first man to have ever seen an erupting volcano or spinning tornado didn’t find it necessary to investigate with any of his senses other than sight. Luckily though, primitive safety is no longer a daily concern for most people – but we still rarely investigate things further than that instinctual impression.
None of it makes sense really. In fact the whole process is quite opposite to both logic and reason. It is commonly said that, “the more we learn the more we begin to realize how little we actually know.” On the other hand, when we only know very little about something we tend to generalize our knowledge and formulate grand conclusions about whatever that thing is. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
We live in a society that considers knowledge to be intelligence. Even the word intelligence is used to refer to, “a collection of information”. And as a result, people believe that to be intelligent they simply have to know. So what do we do? We gather as much knowledge as possible and archive it for later use.
But wait – we all want to be individuals too. Independent and free-minded thinkers who don’t just accept things for what they are but instead critically analyze them, and from that critical thought formulate our own unique opinions. I mean, that’s what intelligent people do, right?
Yes, I am being a bit mocking. Simply because I don’t believe that’s what intelligence is. That is what someone does who wants to believe that others see them as intelligent. And by doing so they accomplish nothing more than a strengthened state of disillusionment.
We often become desensitized to the best advice in life after hearing it to many times. What do I mean? Imagine if no one ever told you to “follow your dreams” – you simply had never heard or seen those words. But then at age 28 you’re miserable at a some desk job and this guy randomly suggests that you “follow your dreams” – you’d probably think he’s a genius! Since everyone has heard the words “follow you dreams” though, we dismiss it. We say it’s impractical.
This goes for most all good advice. The reason I bring it up though is because of one commonly shared wisdom:
“I don’t know is often the smartest thing you can say.”
We’ve heard it a thousands times, but refuse to believe it. Instead of trying to understand what it means, we assume it’s a clever tactic to help people ask questions in lectures. But it isn’t. It’s a truth.
Intelligent people aren’t the ones who know things, but the people who are trying to learn. Instead of claiming that they know something, they set aside their egos and acknowledge their ignorance to everything. And from that honest start line they begin running an endless race.