No. 1216



Over the past two-plus decades since I started writing this column, and as time has passed, I have had the opportunity to think a lot about what I really believe and what is important to me. From the very beginning, and is still true today, my purpose has been to share useful information and ideas that are positive and encouraging that will bring glory to God and help you achieve greater success. When I make a decision to share something with you here, my first consideration is: Is it right or is it wrong, and next, will it build up or will it tear down? My heart’s desire has always been to earn your trust and to make a positive difference in the life of every person who reads my column.
One word in the English language that I have come to appreciate more and more is the word “discernment.” According to the dictionary, this means “destiny, keen perception or judgment.” This word can help each of us if we truly understand and use it properly. When it comes to discernment, we instinctively know that it is wrong to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater or to continue to talk when someone is asking the blessing. We also know that it is right to stop and help someone who has had a serious accident and to obey the laws of the land, even though we may not agree with some of them.
Using these thoughts as a backdrop, I would like to share something with you titled “The Four Marks of An Educated Person,” written by Grayson Kirk. It appeared several years ago in the Rotarian magazine.
Mr. Kirk says: “No. 1 -- The educated person speaks and writes clearly and precisely, no matter how much information he may have stored away in his brain. A person is not educated until he learns to use his mother tongue with grace, precision and clarity. No. 2 -- The educated person has a set of values and the courage to defend them. Knowledge and experience have given him the capacity to discriminate, not only between right and wrong, but also between the trivial and the significant, that which is cheap and that which has integrity. No. 3 – The educated person tries to understand his society and how it differs from others. He views these differences with compassion and respect, where the uneducated person sees them as evidence of his own superiority, regarding the customs of others with condemnation or contempt. No. 4 – The educated person looks squarely at the world and all its problems, but always with hope. He neither fears nor rejects the trials and tribulations of modern life, but accepts them as his responsibility, the task of making order out of complexity and opportunity out of danger.”
While I don’t know how you feel about it, to me, Mr. Kirk’s article is a fine piece of writing. You will note that he did not single out any one subject or specific area of knowledge, but rather has given a general outline of what a good education is supposed to accomplish. If we leave out any of “The Four Marks of An Educated Person,” we will be out of balance. This was summed up pretty well when someone said, “An educated man is one who can entertain a new idea, entertain another person and entertain himself.”
As you think about what I have just shared here, please ask yourself this question: What does the moral or main idea mean to me and how can I apply it to my own circumstances? This leads me to ask myself this question: Am I truly educated? It really does matter.
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)