Ever drink a tall glass of cold milk on a really hot day? It feels good going down, but do you notice that you get thirstier faster afterwards? Some drinks meet your needs better in some situations.
Sometimes, we meet people with pitchers that are more than happy to share the knowledge they have. But sometimes we find out that what they have poured us doesn’t taste so good. Maybe it’s a couple days past the expiration date. Maybe it’s even poison that will make us sick.
We all encounter people that will tell us things that are not beneficial. If we do not know any better, we will act on this false knowledge and suffer the consequences. This process of learning from our own mistakes is called “experience.”
Experience is one of those things that is good to have but sucks to get, on account of there is frequently pain involved, be it physical or emotional.
Wouldn’t it be nice if someone else could get the experience, fill up a pitcher with that and then pour us a glass of what they learned so we don’t have to make the mistakes they already made? Well, that does happen, though perhaps not nearly as often as it should.
If learning from your own mistakes is “experience,” then learning from someone else’s is “wisdom.”
Wisdom is far superior to experience, because there is no progress without wisdom. Without wisdom, mankind would be caught in an endless loop of making the same mistakes and not learning anything from them.
Imagine a line of people walking toward a tree. The first person walks into the tree and busts his face. If experience were superior to wisdom, then each person in the line would have not only an opportunity but a duty to take his own turn walking into the tree and busting his face.
Wisdom, on the other hand, lets the second person in line say, “I don’t really want to bust my face. I think I’ll walk around the tree.”
Accordingly, the third person in line, who has observed one person busting his face and one not busting his face, is able to conclude logically that not having a busted face is the preferable option. Furthermore, he can also conclude that the logical route to the desired result of the unbusted face is completed through the conscious action of walking around the tree.
Therefore, the third person also walks around the tree, and the rest of the line follows. Thus, wisdom is passed on to posterity and becomes “common sense.”
Likewise, in life, if an ignorant person seeks out “knowledge” that leads to a bad result in his life, common sense dictates that those who follow after would do well to seek another source of knowledge. After all, bad knowledge can not come from a good source (or vice versa). If the knowledge proves false, then so is the source of the knowledge.
Common sense calls out the bad source for what it is and advises not going back to that source for knowledge. Common sense has been brought to fruition when NOBODY goes back to that source for knowledge.
But that isn’t the way it works in real life, is it? Nope, no matter how many have followed the common sense example of the second person and walked around the tree, there’s always some ignoramus who insists on getting out of line and walking into the tree
(Why does this happen? Find out in Part 3–Arrogance)