“Information is not knowledge.
And knowledge is not wisdom.”
My mom said these words today over Easter brunch. No, they did not originate from her, in fact, most of our thoughts and words are a culmination of what we have seen, heard, or read, are they not?
The words were in response to a conversation we were having about the dissemination of information these days.
Actually, the conversation started with us reminiscing about days gone by when stores were shut down from Good Friday until Easter, and how much we missed that. And then we laughed at ourselves for even having such a conversation that echoed those of our ancestors. And then, I felt quite unsettled (and ancient) that I was participating in such a conversation at all.
The conversation soon meandered to our observations of the polarization that is happening among us all. We shared stories we had heard about different groups of people that had been treated unfairly worldwide, or had been marginalized lately in the news – the LGBT community, the Muslim community, the Christian community. We talked about the unfairness of that. We also talked about the irony of it all – wondering why it is that we so often hear about one group who has experienced marginalization not being able to extend grace to another group. Have you noticed this? Does it concern you at all?
It concerns me. It concerns me quite a bit, actually.
I wil be the first to say that we cannot – we should not – let the actions of a few dictate our opinions of the majority. And yet we do this quite often, don’t we?
Why IS that?
Well, as we sat around the table today, solving all of the world’s problems, some observations were made.
For one, we seem to live in a fast paced world of sound bytes. It seems that these sound bytes have often become the sum of our knowledge on various issues. Have you noticed? You can now watch the news, check Twitter and Facebook, as well as your email simultaneously and after a half hour of this, can still be left wondering –
“What just happened?”
When was the last time you were able to take in some information, sit with it, have the opportunity to ask questions and expand your knowledge via discourse, and then walk away feeling that you not only really understood that particular information, you also had completed a coherent thought process in regard to that information.
Are you following me?
It seems to me, polarization is happening so rapidly and indifferently because we are no longer taking the time to come to the table together and have thoughtful discourse. In fact, I would venture to guess that if you put a group of people at the table together to discuss a topic, a lot of sound bytes would be flung at each other, people would be twittering about what so-and-so just SAID at the table, and on and on it would go.
As we sat around the table today, solving the world’s problems, I found myself thinking::
May we never sacrifice authentic community and conversation on the altar of the sound byte.