Rhona Canoy .
SO… All my life, I’ve frequently been referred to as smart. I can’t really say that I understand what that means. I do know that it is a burden that I bear because people inflict their expectations upon me, whether I like it or not. And yet, based on my experience, Filipinos are inherently intelligent. I can’t say that we always use it for good, but we are inherently intelligent.
Having been around learners of different ages for the past 25 years, it is wonderfully fulfilling to be surrounded by children who take their smartness so matter-of-factly. Their curiosity knows no bounds. Their willingness to learn is marked by eagerness and joy. Their ability to solve problems is a joy to watch. And critical thinking, in spite of what a lot of narrow-minded academicians want to believe, is present no matter how young the age. Their capacity to be generous and compassionate without condition is awe-inspiring. Their acceptance of other people without prejudice or bias, regardless of difference of opinion and beliefs and likes, always reminds me that we grown-ups have a lot to learn from them. Their willingness to forgive the faults of others is truly beyond compare. They bear no grudges. They don’t harbor hatred. And their love is always unconditional.
Children are all these things until adults unthinkingly force them into becoming what they are “supposed” to be. At which point I look to the adults to try to understand what kind of people they are and what kind of people they try so hard to turn their children into. I had an encounter yesterday with a so-called adult who placed a high level of importance on his intelligence. Because he wanted to dominate the negotiation, he resorted to flaunting his knowledge and attempting to make others around him feel inferior and inadequate. Bully for him. I truly felt bad for the people he arrogantly inflicted his so-called intelligence upon, referring to them as “not smart” and “not knowledgeable”. And he was getting away with it, too, until he chose to butt heads with me.
This got me to thinking about the difference between thinking that you are smart as opposed to just being smart. Children have this figured out better than adults. What exactly is the difference? From this point onwards, everything is purely my opinion and conjecture and you’re going to run into “I thinks” and “I supposes.” The moment one know they’re smarter than other people, it gets amusing (for me, that is). Everyone should think they’re smart, because it’s true. But once one thinks they’re smarter than others, they start losing IQ points. And those leak away at an alarmingly fast rate.
What is smart, then? Smart is not about knowing a lot of stuff. Smart is about wanting to learn new stuff throughout life. Smart is not about having all the answers. It is about knowing where and how to look for answers. Smart is not about being right all the time. Smart is about being open-minded enough to realize that maybe you’re wrong. Smart is not about judging people because they don’t conform to your beliefs and ideas. Smart is about respecting other people’s beliefs and ideas. Smart is not about believing you’re smarter than everyone. Smart is about knowing that you don’t know everything and that there are lots of people smarter than you. Smart is not thinking you’re the only one who knows how. Smart is about being honest enough to admit that things get done quicker and better with a lot of people working towards the same goal.
Smart is not about knowing the difference between right and wrong. Smart is choosing what’s right over what’s wrong. Smart is not about showing people how smart you are. Smart is about showing people how smart they are. Smart is not about knowing how to win the war. Smart is about preventing war. Smart is not about describing people as poor and underprivileged. Smart is about teaching people that being poor and underprivileged is merely a condition which doesn’t define who they are. And that there is dignity regardless of it.
Smart is respectful. Smart is humble. Smart is not perfect. Smart is compassionate. Smart is knowing why you believe in the things that you do. Smart is listening to others because they have something to teach you. Smart is not inflicting your opinions on others as truth. Smart is questioning what is truth. Smart is searching for truth. Smarts is not a contest. It is not a badge of superiority. It is not an elite classification (although some organizations like Mensa give that impression). It is not who you are. People who are quick to identify it in others are not as quick to see it in themselves, which I think is sad. It takes a lot of effort to appear smart. After all, it takes a lot of effort to fill up those brain cells with stuff and keep it in there.
Smart is knowing that being smart is not enough. And that smart should lead to wisdom. At the end of the day, smart is not about what’s in your brain. Smart is what you do with what’s in your brain. And the smartest ones are the ones who use their smarts to benefit others as well as themselves. So how smart are you? And please don’t say you’re Globe.