• Posted: Dec 02, 2010 23:53:05
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There is an interesting battle going on these days within at least two segments of our world's population: across the U.S. and within many of the poorer Islamic nations. Evidence of that battle is all over the airwaves. Almost every story, almost every round table discussion, almost every sermon, almost every infomercial either talks about or participates in that battle. I am not talking about an imagined battle between Islam and non-Islam. I am talking about a very real battle for authority, authority in the sense of who to believe. Within each group, both within the U.S. and within the poorer Islamic nations, smaller groups of would be leaders and pundits are trying to persuade us that they know the truth about certain things, and that they have the prescription for actions we must take to protect ourselves from dire consequences. Lives are at stake, heritage is at stake, principles are at stake, health and wellbeing are at state, the entire future of the planet is at stake. None of us knows for sure whether any of what we are being told is in fact true or not. So what are we to do? How will we decide who is right and what is the best thing for us to do?
Those are interesting and challenging questions. To answer them we must both call on our own intelligence and plum the depths and validity of intelligence being offered to us. But what is intelligence and how do we recognize it? And once we recognize it, can we trust it?
Intelligence is like life. We know it when we see it, but we are hard pressed to exactly define it. It has something to do with awareness, and it has something to do with understanding dynamics or how things change, and it has something to do with understanding relationships between things that change. When we look into someone's eyes we can sometimes recognize bewilderment, concern, or at ease satisfaction. Of those three, only concern likely connotes intelligence. We see that someone is sensing something, considering its dynamics, and possibly deciding on a course of action. But should we trust in that intelligence? We might if that source of intelligence has established a track record with us for being right in its assessment of things.
The problem with finding and coming to rely upon a source of intelligence is that, first, it is only one source and intrinsically limited by its point of view. And two, it's a secondary source compared to our own intelligence. In other words, it might not have our own best interests at heart in the advice it gives. Many of our would be leaders are actually con-men hoping to dupe us in one way or another to their own benefit, not ours.
So what are we to do? We do the best we can in assessing and heeding the intelligence we are offered. Comparing notes with our friends can help solidify our own intelligence. The problem comes when legions of our friends or fellow citizens do not come to the same conclusions that we do. We find ourselves in conflict with our fellows. And it is not a comfortable situation to find one's self in. In that case, it helps to look outside one's normal group of friends to see what others are thinking. Perhaps we need a different group of friends. But there is also a contrary problem. While it may seem comforting to be in total agreement with our friends, we may also as a group come to faulty conclusions, concurring victims of our unquestioned assumptions and prejudices.
May both you and your friends' intelligence forever grow in affecting and effective wisdom, to the benefit of us all.
Saturday, September 25th, 2010
54.3 mm 257 mm