At last your time has come. You’ve left your childhood and early teens where you’d carved a corner of a world that belonged to you, a secure place, where you were insulated from the stress of fending for yourself and now are off to explore this University town of Manipal in the hinterlands of Southern India. Some of you may have come from countries and cultures far removed from what you are now experiencing!
You’re now joined by an ever-replenishing society of fascinating people and learned scholars and impassioned artists and driven achievers whom you had read about in the fairy tales and childhood novels or watched in the innumerable movies. Whether or not your college years will be “the best years of your life,” they will almost certainly be among the most transformative.
The question is whether that transformation will be for the better.
Here is a joke I came across while surfing the web last night -
The strong young man at the construction site was bragging that he could outdo anyone in a feat of strength. He especially made fun of one of the older guys in the crew. After several minutes, the older worker had had enough.
“Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is,” he said. “I will bet a week’s wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that outbuilding that you won’t be able to wheel back.” “You’re on, old man,” the young man bragged replied. “Let’s see what you got.”
The old man reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to the young man, he said, “All right. Get in.”
Most of us like this story because the youngster gets put in his place. But, as the new school year begins, this story reminds me of how often we are wrong when we are absolutely, 100% positive that we are right. I too have gone through this phase of life when as a pearly eyed boy of 17 I entered my MBBS Course, with my own personal prejudices, nervousness and a certain amount of curiosity.
According to many saints and mystics, the beginning of wisdom is realizing that we don’t know everything. No doubt the younger worker was stronger than the older but he didn’t have sense to realize that he didn’t know everything. Many philosophers, mystics and theologians of all religions agree that when we think we know everything, our mind is closed to learning and developing. The ignorance is bad enough, but what about the ignorance most of us have about what we believe and why we believe it?
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” - Socrates