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WISDOM: Here's where it resides

| November 11, 2010 11:47 AM

Just prior to the nightmare that became World War II, the nation with the highest percentage of citizens with college and post-baccalaureate degrees was Nazi Germany. What nation's citizenry held the distinction of holding the highest rates of literacy in the world at that time? Imperial Japan.

The late William F. Buckley once opined that, offered the chance to select individuals to run the country, he would rather place that responsibility in the hands of the first 400 persons listed in the Boston phone book than he would the faculty of Harvard University. It is doubtful that he was trying to suggest that ignorance is bliss, but rather to suggest the somewhat difficult to swallow proposition (particularly in our own age) that knowledge (and its related concept, capacity) is not the same as wisdom. Knowledge must serve wisdom; we reverse these concepts at our peril.

To be sure, Mr. Ruskovich, in his recent My Turn column, makes a salient point that public school teachers in Idaho are underpaid. This is true both in terms of comparing their pay with that of teachers in neighboring states, and, more importantly, in terms of the responsibilities of the job. For a fact I know that our three children benefited beyond description from the professionalism and dedication of public school teachers in the great state of Idaho; but to equate one's stack of sheepskins as evidence for the capacity to govern woefully misses the mark of what it means to lead.

To place our trust in knowledge alone is to suggest that one could successfully navigate the seven seas governed by knowledge of sailing alone without compass, star charts or a rudder; surely a foolish proposition, but one that we seem as a society to embrace. Knowledge can only answer the how, it is to wisdom we must turn to correctly (and humanly) answer the why. It is all well and good to wish for our leaders to be educated, but it is best to pray that they be wise. So, where might I suggest wisdom be found?

To borrow a phrase from Malcolm Muggeridge: wisdom will be found in that simple light on the shores of Galilee and nowhere else.

DAN OSTER

Athol

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