A good education is rightly prized, and sadly, many people even today have little or no access to it. Combined with personal effort, education can make a powerful transformation in a person’s life. Intelligence is more a personal trait, not distributed by race or class. Nor does it guarantee happiness and fulfilment. Used properly of course it too can transform individuals and communities.
This poem is a musing on something even greater than education and intelligence – wisdom. It cannot be bought or taught. Nor is it given to some and not to others. What is it then, and how might we acquire it?
Johnny’s parents were very wealthy,
And sent him to an expensive school.
But Johnny wasn’t all that bright,
And failed most tests as a rule.
Billy’s parents were not rich at all,
But Billy was exceptionally clever,
And managed to win a scholarship,
With relatively little endeavour.
Neither boy was academically keen,
But whereas Johnny struggled to pass,
Billy was always getting high marks,
Firmly ensconced at the top of the class.
Both received a first class education.
Where to from here? Another story:
Grades are good, but daddy’s contacts
Can aide one’s career path hugely…
If education is something supplied,
For many, especially girls, sadly absent;
Intelligence is entirely different:
A personal trait – a genetic present?
If intelligence is a ‘god-given’ gift,
And cannot be taught or bought;
What is it then? Nifty neurons?
Fluent handling of complex concepts?
Allied with strong powers of memory?
The ability to pinpoint essentials,
While holding extensive inventory?
A precious quality then, to be both
Valued and envied in full measure?
But for me there’s something greater,
To be desired more than treasure.
Many think that commonsense
Is actually an uncommon sense…
And clever folk don’t always click;
Socially awkward, way too intense?
Intelligence can bring problems for sure.
At least, so they tell me! If I could,
Solomon-like, choose another gift,
I’d go for wisdom, sure I would!
Wisdom, the priceless pearl indeed;
The ability to discern what matters,
To see through to the heart of things,
And not be fooled by fronts and flatters.
Wisdom, as the old maxim reminds:
Knowing what to change, what to leave.
Could we define it as ‘life knowledge’?
Or ‘god knowledge’ if we so believe?
For God’s foollishness is far greater
Than the sum of all human wisdom.
And wisdom’s field is democratic:
Offered to all the children of Adam.
So anyone at all can then be wise?
The educated and uneducated?
Rich and poor? Clever and not so clever?
Spiritual and spiritually alienated?
And the path to wisdom? Perhaps by
Taking time to stand back from the din,
To reflect, to act, and not just react;
To value art, literature and meaning?
But ultimately to risk making the effort
To tune in to that heavenly wisdom:
Accessible to all on every level –
And pray each day: come, Holy Spirit, come!