The interchanging of wisdom with stupidity is common—leaving many people unaware of the actual definition of either of these two words. Sadly, this confusion appears as more prevalent among black Africans, than it is with the other races. For instance, in Africa, there is none that received recognition, more than the late former President Robert Mugabe. Such praises disregarded the fact that it was Robert Mugabe who steered the Zimbabwean nation to its current state of lawlessness and poverty.
For instance, it took only those associated with wisdom, to understand that the land reform program was embroiled in stupidity. The majority of land recipients, felt proud of, at last, having been able to own land, as not having been possible to acquire it before. Having fought, in the pretext that the white man was evil, the land reform program became sacred, especially to the war veterans.
But, it is the effects, or results of the land reform program, that reveals whether the move was stupid or wise. The continuously plummeting economic condition, reveals it all. There could not have been any wisdom in the activities of the land reform program. What makes it extremely difficult to deduce stupidity from wisdom, is focus on self, more than focusing on other people. Wisdom is altruistic, while stupidity is self-centered.
To those associated with stupidity, wisdom implies the ability to take advantage of other people. This is why corruption is entrenched deeply among the governing authorities. The governing authorities comprise the people who came to power by means of treachery, than by merit. Such people took advantage of the ignorant majority—-who were unable to see beyond their circumstantial poverty conditions.
As stupidity is always mistaken for wisdom, it is Herculean, to take the majority out of stupidity. Even though the negative statistics manifest, it is impossible to convince those entrenched in folly to accept the label of stupidity. Such people are caught up in blaming others, rather than take responsibility for what is wrong.
God is also brought into the fray, as assumed to have cursed Africa. It cannot be denied that the grand black African stupidity is a result of colonialism. The only real challenge is that it is impossible for stupidity to rescue anyone from the conditions of stupidity. But, it can be possible for some, with the power of intellectual observation to take responsibility—educating the uneducated.
Those not taking the responsibility to educate others, will, also, remain embroiled in stupidity, notwithstanding their ability to observe. Keeping wisdom to oneself, without disseminating it, is another form of stupidity. This is why wisdom is altruistic, while stupidity is self-centered. A person can assume having much knowledge. But when unable to positively influence others, to also become wise, one remains embroiled in stupidity, in equal measure.
The problems of survival are a result of engaging in stupidity or allowing others to engage in stupidity, without restraining them. While Nelson Mandela is regarded highly, internationally, he is deeply despised in Africa. African people cannot value the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Just as representing the African people, the ANC, has embarked on land emancipation, as adopting Mugabe’s land reform agenda. This is different from Nelson Mandela’s viewpoint—appreciating human value, regardless of racial considerations.
The only way to show whether Nelson Mandela’s leadership was wise or not, is statistics. Only the unwise fail to see that most people from the African continent, flock into South Africa, looking for jobs. The positive economic statistics are, indeed, reflected in South Africa, yet not in Zimbabwe. Yet both countries emerged from the excruciating liberation struggles.
The only effective evaluation of determining the wisdom, as opposed to stupidity, is statistics. If the South African economy is intact, due to Mandela’s behavior, the African problems would be half-solved if copying Mandela’s behavior. The state of the South African economy may not be favorable to the blacks. But that has got nothing to do with Madiba.
The objective legislators could solve the inequalities overnight. For instance, if the white farmers are doing a good job, with their farming expertise, why take away the land from them? The parliamentarians could simply legislate that the black labor-force in farms be fairly remunerated. Are people happier when the economy is booming, or happier when the economy is shrinking?
Only the statistics can reveal the difference. What leads towards ultimate happiness is, naturally, determined by either, actions of stupidity or, actions of wisdom. This requires common sense, more than it is to do with populism. In most cases, populism is taken for wisdom, as resonating with the uneducated majority. This is what has facilitated the unscrupulous politicians to take advantage—as occupying positions of authority.
There will always be two opposing viewpoints in this life. One leads to wisdom, while the other leads to stupidity. What is required is the ability to assess and choose actions that favor wisdom—rather than choosing actions associated with stupidity. The fundamental principle of choosing between stupidity and wisdom is choosing between pride and humility.
The IQ (Intelligence Quotient) does not, necessarily, describe wisdom, or lack of it. Even when successful where everyone else fails, that does not make one wise. One can be admired, or viewed as a hero, worldwide. But that may not, necessarily, be a sign of possessing wisdom. One may be highly educated, yet being unwise. Another may be illiterate, as unable to write his/her own name, yet being rich with wisdom.
In our time we have been graced with the most brilliant inventors. But, all that does not, necessarily, bestow wisdom, or stupidity on them. This is just as being a Christian does not make one wiser than none-Christians. The only distinguishing factor in defining wisdom, are actions found on the principle of humility.
Although, very few people can distinguish between humility and pretending to be humble. Pretending to be humble implies being conscious of being humble and behaving accordingly. Basically, this was the problem with the Pharisees, at the time of Jesus. They compared their behavior with what was written in the Books of Law and, that way felt approved.
Applying the law of humility, as described in the books of Law, does not describe humility. Although the person may entertain the idea that he/she would be humble when applying the Law. There is more to humility than just that kind of behavior. Wisdom is applicable, firstly, when one is able to separate between what he knows and what he doesn’t know.
That person takes full responsibility for everything that he/she knows. When there exist people not knowing as much as one knows, one loses sleep, to help the ignorant. He sacrifices for the benefit of the ignorant people in his area. A wise person does not pretend to know what he/she doesn’t know.
Not knowing what everybody else knows, does not make him/her uncomfortable. People may ridicule and say many unpleasant things about his lack of knowledge. But this is a person who can never feel victimized, for lacking knowledge. That person is willing to sacrifice, for the purpose of acquiring knowledge. It does not take time for such a person to acquire knowledge.
Knowledge is accessible to all people. But is acquired by those willing to sacrifice to gain it. Lack of knowledge is the worst thing a person can ever have in this life. Unfortunately, we have people masquerading as citadels of knowledge, when the opposite is true. Education is not education, as long as not adding value to others. A wise person gets educated, in order to become valuable to others. But a stupid person gets educated, in order to feel proud of him/herself.
There are two types of educators. The first one advances him/herself in order to feel good—acquiring the level of education that others lack. That makes him/her feel proud as also receiving respect from others. To acquire knowledge from such people is very expensive. Such people become uncomfortable when others acquire similar knowledge or possibly becoming better than them.
They become highly suppressive, although not willing to confront their suppressive behavior. In our world of insanity, these are the people, most respected and idolized. The gullible people respect them—yet such educators would not be willing to grant beingness to other people. They love being respected and adulated by other people, instead. They cherish wearing titles like Professor, Doctor, or any other label of admiration. In Christianity, such titles are Pastors, Reverends or Bishops, etc.
The second type of educators, seek to help the uneducated to also become educated. These types of educators are willing to sacrifice a great deal, helping others to acquire and assimilate knowledge. They receive venomous criticisms from those not desiring to see improvement among the disadvantaged. The reason is to ensure the maintenance of respect—coming from ignorant people. Such respects become unsustainable when the ordinary also become educated.
The challenges faced by the second type of educators is, therefore, from their fellow educators. The second type of educator is not worried about titles—serving only to label them for what they would be proficient in. They identify with the uneducated majority, who they willingly service. The typical example that comes to mind is Jesus. What could one have given, as an exchange, to be taught by Jesus, when considering his educational standard?
Of course, His title was of the Messiah or Christ. But Jesus never made a fuss of those not addressing Him as such. He did not defend Himself, even when being unfairly compared with the worst criminal, Barabbas. This caliber of an educator seeks to elevate the status of the deprived, than worrying about being respected by others. The world grants respect to the first type of educators, rather than the second—considered as foolish.
Nonetheless, the first educator is not different from the uneducated of this world. The comfort that this type seems to exude, is temporary and does not absolve him/her from the consequences that would ultimately befall the uneducated. The value of the second educator is measured according to the number of people, whose lives are changed for the better. He/she is involved with uplifting the lives of those, in soiled conditions, as to also become soiled.
When rescuing someone from the muddy conditions the rescuer, cannot help but become muddy, as well. This is why Jesus was labeled a sinner when He wasn’t. He identified with sinners when he was not a sinner, Himself. Wisdom is associated with altruism, while stupidity is associated with self-centeredness. A wise person knows that there is no value in self-praise. While a stupid person assumes that there is value in self-praise.
The self-praise mentality is manifested in our country’s leaders. They cannot even see how fast, their dwindling spiral towards oblivion. One hopes that the opposition parties avoid adopting what prevails—regarding it as defining trendy political culture. People succumb to what goes on in the environment, more than adopting logical processes, associated with wisdom. We have the educational policy that projects the opposite of what wisdom entails.
Also, we have Christian leaders that project the opposite of what the author of Christianity recommended. However, the informed can make a difference. They can easily influence those of the younger generations to adopt a culture that grants beingness to the entire humanity. The starting point is appreciating that wisdom and stupidity are often, commonly, interchanged.
This analytical information is designed to help those willing to see, for themselves, the workability of what was recommended by Jesus. There is a need to also carefully evaluate what is commonly labeled as stupid. Most of that describes the meritorious viewpoint of Jesus. A person is wise, when tolerant of the ignorant. But a person becomes unwise when intolerant of the ignorant.
It is also important to always keep in mind that wisdom does not come from the majority, necessarily. In Zimbabwe, when the majority marched alongside the military forces to remove a constitutionally elected president, they assumed being wise. But I suppose the last two years of economic hardships have disabused most people, of such fallacy. Wisdom comes from the ability to distinctly separate between the two principles—altruism and self-centeredness.
The education that is guided by humility, is the only true guide towards wisdom. Yet the other type, guided by vanity, is the one that, actually, leads to stupidity. Wisdom is like the beacon of light that brilliantly reflects in darkened shadows. Therefore, it can only be a few wise people who make a difference in the darkened world of sin. Such educators are as scarce as any valuable ornamental pearl. Any reader of this, could be counted among such jewels.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
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