Tag: Knowledge

The Power of Discussion

In May, I spent most of the month working as the substitute teacher in the freshman global studies class at our local high school. My favorite days were the ones when we had discussion prompts and they voiced their opinions.

These days reminded me of the power inherent in discussion. Note, I’m not talking about arguments or one-sided lectures.

Discussion involves a sharing of multiple viewpoints.

I admit, I played the Devil’s Advocate when I could. I took portions of what they offered up in their claims and twisted it to represent the opposite viewpoint in a better light. Sound perspectives from early classes were used to foster discussion in later ones.

And it made me smile. The eight hours of constant interaction generally zap me. I leave the high school feeling like a zombie in need of a long hibernation.

But not on those discussion days. Because the brain-stimulating charge from the discussion kept the fatigue at bay. Powerful and empowering: discussion.

Power of Thought

Some topics are thought-provoking.  Other topics might not be all that interesting until presented in a way that speaks to the place a person lives.

In either case, discussion requires a brain to wake up and get to work.

Believe me when I tell you the youth I interact with in public school don’t do as much thinking as they should. Instead, they’re spoon fed information to regurgitate as test answers.

Not the case for a discussion. Although, I can tell you it was clear when students supplied a regurgitated answer. When asked questions about it or to give a logical path between the question and their answer, they were stumped.

Deep thinking requires analysis and evaluation. Information is input into our brain and when it comes out our mouths it’s been synthesized through our worldview, experiences, values and additional knowledge.

Power of Understanding

One of the biggest powers of discussion is its ability to impart understanding. This isn’t in the form of facts. It’s in the form of mind-expanding.

In a discussion, another side we hadn’t considered is presented. The reasoning behind that viewpoint is explained. A lightbulb goes on.

Even if we aren’t convinced by this shared information, we’re suddenly aware of where the “other side” comes from.

We understand their way of thinking, the process of their logic. Suddenly, there isn’t just a right way and a wrong way. Or even a my way and their way.

True understanding opens the avenue of compassion. This isn’t the road to tolerance or even acceptance. It’s a path that says, “You can get there a different way.” Even if it isn’t the shortest or fastest route, it isn’t wrong either. Just different.

And diversity should be appreciated.

Power to Compromise

Most things in the world don’t have to be one way. This is the biggest outcome to open discussion. Open discussion being that where everyone listens and everyone has input. People talk and their words are heard and considered as valuable.

Compromise is rarely the path of least resistance. Its very nature requires concessions from both sides.

As long as either side sticks with an unbending will, there can be no meeting in the middle.

However, compromise can agree to disagree. We don’t have to think exactly alike to be able to work together for a better world.

To work together, though, we’ll have to put a sock in our pride. We can’t look down our nose at the other side because that breeds contempt and resentment.

If I have the cure for cancer, does it matter if the cancer patient believes the same way I do about politics or religion or even the best way to administer the cure? Won’t it cure them no matter what they believe?

But if I withhold the cure to use as a “lever” to sway those other beliefs, I’m guilty of inhumanity.

What do you see as the powers of open discussion between people with various viewpoints?

A Word to the Wise–or the Wanna-Be Wise

Years ago, a pastor suggested reading through the Book of Proverbs every month. One chapter per day, 31 chapters in the book, seemed like a reasonable idea. Especially if you’re looking to be wise.

Wisdom isn’t a highly sought after commodity in many circles. People are content to “know enough” to do their jobs, take care of their family and have a good time.

We know I’m a recovering Type A perfectionist, so the thought of NOT being wise rubs me the wrong way. I mean, if it’s as simple as reading a chapter from the Bible every day, why not?

Nothing is ever that simple.

This month, I’m encouraging myself to reinstate this practice that has fallen into a slump lately. After all, there are YouVersion reading plans, so why do the same old, same old? (This month, why not do both? That’s my plan.)

Because God’s Word is a living book. Every month a different verse will stand out or stomp my toes.

I haven’t attained wisdom status yet. (I know that shocks all of you.)

So, I’m sharing the first week of daily reading memes here. Maybe you’re looking for some wisdom in a world gone crazy with blame and accusation. Why not give A Proverb a Day a test drive?

I know I’m a day behind for the week, but bear with me.

Monday: Read Proverbs chapter 2

Tuesday: Read Proverbs chapter 3

Wednesday: Read Proverbs chapter 4

Thursday: Read Proverbs chapter 5

Friday: Read Proverbs chapter 6

Saturday: Read Proverbs chapter 7

Look at that! One week of considering words of wisdom is in the bank. Don’t you feel wiser already?

What is your definition of wisdom? How do you cultivate it in your life?

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What is Wisdom?

“Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences” – Norman Cousins

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Four months away from having a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature conferred upon me by a reputable institution of higher learning, I ponder the definition of wisdom.

Many of the quotations I found while searching for something that partnered well with my post inferred that wisdom was directly related to asking questions. I really thought that would be knowledge, so I went to the dictionary for a clear definition.

Dictionary.com says that wisdom is “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.” In my own words, I’d say wisdom means knowing the right thing to do and doing it. Additionally, I believe wisdom understands there is a “best way” for these actions to be completed and performs them accordingly.

Several days ago, I posted on my church blog about a wise woman from the Bible named Abigail. Her life, filled with unpleasantness at the hands of her churl of a husband, wouldn’t seem one that would lend itself to finding wisdom. However, that wasn’t the case at all.

Some Americans in this era act as if higher education is the path to wisdom. If you don’t have a college degree, you’re doomed to mediocrity and probably believe everything you hear on TV.

Education is the path to knowledge. Wisdom is the path of experience. After eight weeks of reading Shakespeare, I can safely say I’m not an expert in anything having to do with The Bard. In fact, by increasing my knowledge and experiencing more of his writing first hand, my ignorance was illuminated. However, the path to wisdom isn’t by thorough knowledge of Shakespeare.

Wisdom graces our everyday life with enlightened decision making. Exercising problem solving skills and higher reasoning, anyone can live wisely. The key is to think before you act (or speak) and recognize when you don’t have enough information to accurately judge what the best course of action would be.

In that moment, a wise person asks questions. They seek knowledge to inform their decisions. So, I suppose all those quotes that saw a correlation between wisdom and asking questions were insightful, after all.

Wisdom: no college degree required. In fact, a college degree might give some people a false sense of confidence.

I hope and pray I’ll be wiser in four months. I’ll be exercising decision-making skills every day until then. In the meantime, I’ll remember that “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:28).

I hope I’m wise enough to keep my mouth shut.