We saw the new movie, "Get Smart," yesterday. It got me to thinking.
A re-do of the original television series by the same name, the new Maxwell Smart is as lame-brained as the original, yet he manages to get out of trouble and catch the crooks. He's an agent for CONTROL, a secret U.S. agency. That's about it. But after sitting through the movie (we have friends who laughed out loud during it), I got to thinking exactly what being smart means.
We believe we have smart grandchildren, and our children were smart in school. We know people we say are smart because they are accountants, physicians, computer techs, engineers and on and on. We don't think about truck drivers or janitors as being smart. I looked up the word and Webster gives definitions of sharp pain, enduring distress, pay a heavy or stinging penalty. The number three definition is to be witty or fashionable. Finally, at number four the slang is intelligence and know-how.
Remember in grade school calling some one a "smart alec" or "smarty pants?" And there's the new (at least to me) smart ass. We have smart cards (a small plastic card that has a built-in micro-processor to store and process data and records), smart money (for well-informed insiders, bettors or speculators), smart-weed (a variety polygonums with strong acid juice--what?), and as we saw in Europe and are seeing here now, Smart cars (little cars that use less gas but wouldn't stand up against a bicycle if they were in a crash.)
We all want our children to be smart. We want to be considered smart (instead of dumb.) But maybe instead of smartness, what we really desire is wisdom. Wisdom is way above smartness. It's the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships, to have good judgment, good sense, to make wise, sane and sensible decisions.
Ted Bundy was smart, but he wasn't wise.
In the beginning of his reign, King Solomon was wise, but when you look at his life, it doesn't look like he was very smart. He had an obsession for women (seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines--give me a break!), foreign women who were able to turn him away from God. He built places to worship and sacrifice to other gods. This was a guy who had seen God twice! It's hard to figure out why Solomon lost his wisdom, even after writing words like: "Wisdom is better than strength," Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good." Was he prophysying to himself?
It's easy to get smart, get book learning, watch television and know all the trivia that will win you a million dollars if you're on the right show, save the planet, influence politicians and CEOs, make a perfect score on every test, operate on someone's brain or heart. . . but it's harder to be wise.
It just might be that the truck driver or the janitor we think doesn't have book-learning might be the wisest man we know. Listen to what people say, how they live, who they admire, how they treat other people.
Wisdom is easy to see when we're looking for it.