Turtle Talk Editorial: With all thy getting, get understanding


Much emphasis is placed on the acquisition of knowledge in our ever advancing high tech society.  And with its importance there should always be an awareness of its variable and inestimable forms and quantities.  

An elderly gentleman once told me “The only difference between city folk and country folks is they’re dumb about different things.”  Is that not the primary difference between all of us?  

Webster lists among its definitions of knowledge: what is known through study, experience, or association.  Therefore those with different interests and experiences would inevitably find themselves among different associates while acquiring increased knowledge that would be foreign to those of other persuasions.  Not necessarily better than, only different.

I love the little commercial in which the father asks his son what he wants to be when he grows up to which the little boy answers with little hesitation, “a teacher.”  Obviously disappointed with the answer the father attempts to diplomatically respond. “That’s nice, son, but I had hoped you might want to be something more, as perhaps a doctor,” to which the child wisely responds, “But without teachers where would doctors come from?”

Few indeed would be those who have achieved reasonable success in any given profession or field of endeavor who do not attribute much of that acceleration to some particular teacher (or teachers) along the way, often beginning with their first teacher (the mother).

How astonishing to hear in the Baha’i Holy Writings for this new age, that the teachers and farmers, considered to be at the bottom of today’s societal ladder, will rank at the top in the new world order as everything will once again be totally dependent upon them.  

With our steadily increasing superior knowledge of science and technology we continue to create and use weapons of mass destruction. This begets mass destruction through even less sophisticated sources.  We create new allies for so called “underdogs” and fall from grace before the world while becoming increasingly despised by men and nations–hardly a formula for world peace in any foreseeable future.

Wisdom, on the other hand is “accumulated philosophic learning, insight and ability to discern inner qualities and relationships” resulting in a wise course of action.  

We are admonished in the Baha’i Holy Writings: “When a thought of war comes, oppose it with a stronger thought of peace and each thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love!”

We also learn from the Holy Bible: “ Get wisdom, get knowledge, but with all thy getting, get understanding.”

Likewise the Baha’i Holy Writings reaffirm, “First and foremost among all the favors which the Almighty hath conferred upon man is the gift of understanding … the gift that giveth man the power to discern the truth in all things, leadeth him to that which is right and helpeth him to discover the secrets of creation:  

With man’s understanding of the true nature and purpose of knowledge and wisdom will come the understanding that “No deed could be greater than service to the common good,” and no blessing greater than becoming a cause of education, development, prosperity and honor for one’s fellow creatures”.  Those with such understanding would surely “arise and energetically devote themselves to the service of the masses, forgetting their own worldly advantage and working only to serve the common good of all.”