“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”
– Henry Ford
Now, intelligence is really a thing to understand – and many people misunderstand and misrepresent it regularly. For example, intelligence is often seen for wisdom, but the two are very different. Intelligence can also be mistaken for aptitude, but that’s not quite right either. While sought after, many mournful things have been said about intelligence, as well.
So, then, what is it?
Intelligence in its purest form – at least to me – is a very cold function. As soon as you warm intelligence, it becomes instinct or intuition. If you heat it farther still, it becomes wisdom – once tempered. Pure intelligence, however, is nearly cold as steel in winter. It’s a thing sans emotion that would need to be drawn as blue to be expressed as a color. Maybe this is all pointlessly obscure, but it’s important to me.
The point I’m meaning to make is this: intelligence is valuable but dangerous when not tempered with more human characteristics. In fact, it can be a liability. Many people perceive an intelligent man as intimidating or aloof. Others would simply say “eccentric”. Of course, there are as many types of intelligence as there are branches on a tree; no one label suits them all. Regardless, a man of great intelligence if not improved by that necessary warmth will likely find life terrifying and its people distasteful and unappreciative. A man who can mix wisdom with intelligence, however, can often set his course through life as he pleases.
It seems, then, that intelligence is the result of academic pursuit without life experience. In practice, it is knowledge acquired as a result of someone else’s endeavors without sympathy or compassion. Now, that isn’t to say this is undesirable. There are many practical and worthwhile things we learn as a result of intelligence – for example, to be more aware of un-intuitive dangers or deceptions.
My hope in all of this is to compel anyone full of intelligence to further nurture it into wisdom. I have no intention of suggesting that we should abandon the pursuit of intelligence; I merely recommend we not stop there. An intelligent man, in my mind, is the one freshly graduated. Perhaps you were blessed with a remarkable education at great expense – and what a blessing! Having received such education, however, now it is your responsibility to gain experience and make your knowledge that much more valuable to yourself and those around you.
I also hope to make this plea to the intelligent person that is scared or down-trodden in life: don’t stop here. Just because you have grasped onto your learning, there is no time to rest. There’s an expression, “knowing just enough to be dangerous” – such is one educated but untempered by time and living. Don’t assume that just because you “know” you also “understand”. Don’t let your fearful realizations stop you from exploring until you see life for the wonder it really holds.
Thank you for your time.