Conhecimento x Sabedoria

Knowledge is not synonymous with wisdom. The two don’t always go together. In fact, there are those who accumulate large doses, figures and formulas of information. They ingest multiple and varied data to be computerized through every pore. Alongside this, however, they display petty wisdom. And conversely, there are those who, despite having limited potential and being practically illiterate, reveal great wisdom. Knowledge has to do with the ability to store many and distinct pieces of knowledge; wisdom coincides with the ability to cross them and put them into practice. Knowledge turns the head into a kind of gigantic automaton computer, wisdom opens the heart and hands to the other, brother, different. Knowing means taking possession of the laws that govern things, animals and people; Knowing how to live, instead, consists of establishing healthy and healthy relationships between them.

Knowledge, in itself, can cause arrogance, arrogance and isolation. Likewise, the ignorance associated with power and intolerance degenerates into a kind of pernicious denialism. Without wisdom, knowledge tends to rise alone and alone; alongside her, on the contrary, he tends to elevate others with him. Knowledge multiplies intellectuals, scientists, artists, geniuses; only in conjunction with wisdom, however, will you be able to sew bonds of love, kindness and compassion. The fusion of one with the other strengthens the sacred thread of trust, which weaves human relationships at their most varied levels. In isolation, knowledge will be led to create islands, ghettos and bubbles. With this, it raises borders and walls that, in turn, generate hostility, prejudice and mutual discrimination; alongside wisdom, it builds and cultivates communities open to encounter, dialogue and solidarity.

Knowledge leads to possession and, even more so, to the struggle to maintain it at any cost; wisdom engenders and cultivates the relationship. Knowledge can swell, blossoming into an unhealthy “having”; wisdom takes care of “being” with care. If I have to choose between one and the other, I prefer wisdom to knowledge. Even better if you can both walk arm in arm and hand in hand. Knowledge and wisdom sometimes become strange to each other, the first tending to distance itself from the second. But both, when they merge, are also capable of illuminating each other. Together, knowledge and wisdom tend towards justice, integral development, law, well-being, fraternity and peace. Limitless knowledge goes in all directions, and it may well mean neutralizing your own effort; wisdom serves to guide, channel and focus the essential goals of knowledge in the service of the well-being of humanity.

The child without rules, even if he is a genius, tends to become the absolute king of the house, then of school and, finally, of the community and the world. Contemporary society seems to have deprived parents of the right and duty to impose limits on their children. Other institutions, such as daycare centers, schools or churches, are not prepared or authorized to do so. Relatively often, they end up being prosecuted if they dare to “touch” the child. Who, ultimately, will show her that she is not alone on earth and that, therefore, she needs to respect some rules for the good of everyone? This function is often left to the police and repressive forces of the State. But then it will be too late! The damage has already spread out of control. The cancer has entered the metastasis stage, there is no way to stop its harmful contamination. Other tissues of the personal and social body are becoming necrotic, the entire organism is compromised.

Desires and instincts, passions and interests, whether personal, family, partisan or corporatist in nature, take the place of the common good. In a similar educational/training process, the most natural thing is to seek immediate answers to equally immediate questions. You don’t think about a plan for tomorrow, much less for life in general. The most important thing is to enjoy today, here and now, everything that existence can offer. Good living – socially, politically and ecologically in solidarity with nature, with the marginalized and with future generations – gives way to egocentric and selfish living well . Life focuses on one’s own navel. It is easy to see how from laxity, extreme tolerance and indifference, on the one hand, to anarchy, marginality or authoritarianism, on the other, the distance is only one of degree. In this way, despots, tyrants, dictators, with their most different pathologies, are born and grow. And in the same way, evildoers are also created. Where there are no limits, there is space whether for drugs, weapons, conflicts, violence and wars, or for creativity, which always requires light and direction.

Father Alfredo J. Gonçalves, cs, SPM advisor – São Paulo, November 25, 2023

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