Virtue of the Week: Knowledge

KnowledgeToday we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain; why the early bird gets the worm; life isn’t always fair, and maybe it was my fault.

Common sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults are in charge not children).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of an 8 year old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch, and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition. Common sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student, but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant.

Common sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses, and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault. Common sense finally gave up the will to live, after a women failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common sense was preceded in death, by his parents, truth and trust, his wife, discretion, his daughter, responsibility, and his son, reason. He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers: I know my rights, I want my rights, I want it now, and I’m a victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

What is Knowledge?

Generation Y thinks we know it all. We go off to college to get a good education, a fancy degree, and then think we know how to do everything right away. I often tell people that while I’m glad I pursued a Master’s degree, my coursework only taught me how to do things, it didn’t really teach me how to get things done. Going to school did not teach me how to communicate effectively with different types of people or how to build consensus around an issue. It didn’t teach me how to deal with ethical dilemmas in the workplace. it didn’t even teach me what to do when I screw up. I learned all that through trial and error, and from the wisdom of my peers and older colleagues. There is a huge disconnect between the theory and the application of things, especially in doing nonprofit work. Young people need the education (which does not necessarily have to come from a university or college), but we also need the wisdom that comes from failing, and learning from our mistakes. I think there’s a big difference between knowledge and wisdom.Rosetta Thurman