It hit me about five years ago while teaching a class of young adults. Many were graduate students who were brilliant and they knew it. Thanks to smart phones they could fact check me on the spot! Was my quote accurate and in context? They could find out in seconds. They were quick to “well actually…” me. Have you ever met someone like that? We are raising an army of them so if you haven’t yet, you will.
While I believe strongly in the value of education, something is missing. In a sea of prolific, young, know-it-all Googlers taking the world by storm, something is truly missing.
While teaching a class with the aforementioned young adults, it hit me how lost they were. Not lost like I don’t know WHAT the answer is or WHERE I am, lost like I don’t know WHO I am. That’s when I realized my technical school educated, South Dakota born, Harley riding Grandpa had something these young adults are sailing further and further away from. Grandpa spent a lifetime honing who he was all while we obsess over what we know. It appears a little knowledge used wisely is BETTER than a lot of knowledge that just puffs up. A marksman with a bow is BETTER than a toddler with a machine gun.
Let me clarify. Plato and Jesus called it dikaiosune (Greek) though I think it was poorly translated “justice” in the Republic. Aristotle called it areté. Homer used this to describe the nobility of his heroes in the Iliad and Odyssey. Dallas Willard defines it like this, “What that is about a person that makes them right or good.”
Here is what bothers me. We are raising up a generation of people who have access to a lot of information, but we are neglecting to teach them what it means to be “good.” In fact we avoid it because we don’t know what “good living” is anymore! Even our education system has pulled away from requiring students to actually “get” what they are learning.
Think about it. We live in a world where someone can get a Masters in Business Administration and not actually have the capacity to lead at all, or an unstable person who becomes a Psychologist, or even a crooked lawyer. How does this happen you may ask?
Because we are teaching our kids that all they have to do is remember facts for a test and we neglect to develop WHO they are.
So here is the dirty little secret that is killing us: A person can be factually correct yet be a complete mess of a human, a “know-it-all” who has no wisdom, a toddler with a machine gun of facts (often unverified) doing more harm and creating infinite confusion.
I get it! I am guilty of this too. Everyone in the family I grew up in will have at least a masters degree by this summer. Yet my Grandpa who may not have had his historical facts exactly right was working on something else his whole life. His dikaiosune, his arête—he was a good man. He was a great man! He was noble, reliable, and of incredible character. He worked really hard to live like Christ. Just maybe what I learned while deer hunting with Grandpa was of equal or maybe even greater value than what I learned sitting in a classroom.
Here is my prediction, if we don’t bring this “noble character” back it doesn’t matter how much more information we discover or share…. we are done.