There arose a tragedy in the life of Dena Mette on the dismal evening of September 1, 1998. Her husband Troy had hardly made it through the door of their pleasant abode in Peoria, Arizona, when his wife thrust herself into his arms, bawling into the pelt of his coat as she spilled out the news. They had made a mistake; they had epically failed at parenthood, for Jordan’s first pre-school teacher had sent home a note. As he guided her to the kitchen counter, she slid the dreadful article toward him, turning away to avoid its reminder of her shame. It was formally scribed in a loopy cursive, professionally documenting their daughter’s incompetency to “make friends.” Mr. Mette chuckled as he gazed down into the teary eyes of his wife. “She’s not antisocial,” his voice resounded. “Jordan just doesn’t like stupid people!” Over the years, I, Jordan Mette, have finally made acquaintance with many a competent student.
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I have learned that there is a lesson to be taught by everyone, and because each relationship presents a new fragment of knowledge, I am now capable of befriending anyone; I need only to recognize the “brains” which they have to share.
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of words, snails are capable of three-year-long naps, and if you were to feed a seagull Alka-Seltzer, its stomach would explode, but who cares? Useless facts make up a type of knowledge deemed handy merely for entertainment. Like a movie marathon, this comical genius does not benefit an individual, provide amplitude for any range of job opportunities, or lengthen a dying man’s life expectancy, but it is most definitely capable of escalating the quality of one’s everyday life. If a friend can effectively bust out useless facts in public, without frequent repetition, he is always invited to tag along. The accumulation of this adeptness may lead to an eventual career as a comedian on “The Last Comic Standing,” but in the long run, its mastery is particularly pointless.
There has never been and there never will be a limitation set upon a qualitative or quantitative basis for learning, which brings us to yet another futile type of knowledge entitled textbook intellect. This epithet encompasses all those details a history book spells out for students, and then some: the name of an unsuccessful politician, the dates of an insignificant event, or even simply the city in which that event occurred. Textbook intellect is an intelligence based solely on memorization and repetition. Thorough research and hours of study provide the means one needs to attain this type of knowledge, but rarely does one have the time or energy to devote themselves to its acquirement. However, unlike useless facts, one who has obtained textbook intellect may pursue any profession, just so long as accumulation of the necessary social queues have not been deferred by his or her study habits. Financially, this knowledge can actually be quite beneficial, but often times to the hindrance of social or moral competency.
Situational, or communal discernment is based completely of the application of human relations. There is no textbook or iPhone application to teach situational discernment, but rather this level of expertise is either naturally inherited or secured by personal experience. It is defined by the ability to react to any given situation in such a way so as to guarantee an acceptable outcome based on personality types, tolerance to disobeyers, sensitivity, and the situation in particular. Those who have attained this uncanny ability to read both people and circumstances know how to phrase and act in order to evoke the best possible reaction from all other parties involved. They do not necessitate a public education, they need not any sort of instruction manual or textbook, and their work never entails a professional’s opinion. Basically, they are “street smart,” but it is important to realize that there is much more to the knowledge itself than the title it is associated with, especially because there is no specific way to assimilate it. Some learn how to apply it by watching or experiencing, but there are also those who never quite “get” it. If someone is socially incompetent, it is because they have no communal discernment; if they are known as a people pleaser, credit is due to this area of expertise. It can be a weapon or a tool, one’s doom or success. Because situational discernment goes hand and hand with power, this knowledge can be used to the best of one’s advantage, if handled properly.
Useless facts, textbook intellect, situational discernment: each fraction of understanding obtained deems an experience worth undergoing. Whether for humor, financial success, or acceptance from the community, knowledge is necessary for any given circumstance. Yet if life truly was composed purely of stimulation of the brain, that stimulus would be useless, life purposeless. The most important lessons learned travel eighteen inches from the cerebrum, down to our inmost being. They traverse from the head to the heart, not scientifically, but in a way I deem spiritual. Heart knowledge is about applying what one knows to what he or she does. It evokes compassion, sympathy, and a train of thought; facts are no longer tucked away in the mind, but rather, they are brought to the forefront to be processed until something is done in response. Whether it is through supporting a cause, deepening a relationship, or writing words of encouragement, heart knowledge is used to take awareness to a deeper level of understanding until one cannot help but to act. Without it, nothing would ever get done, and the thought process would stop short of meaningfulness.
A friendship is made both possible and worthwhile by a piece of knowledge shared between two acquaintances. Everybody has something to offer; there is always something to learn, and expertise is unattainable. The world was founded with an absence of science, logic, and history, so that they could all be compiled completely through relationships. The wise Greek Plato once wrote that “Knowledge is the food of the soul,” and both scientific theory and my sixteen years of personal experience have proven his words true. Through a never-ending chain of events and links, the correspondence between the accumulation of human understanding and sharing its comprehension has laid the foundation of change, progress, and love; it is something to always work for, and something worth dying for. In the words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is power,” and not only that; knowledge is priceless.