I think I am a reasonably smart guy, but I must admit that I’ve made a lot of bone-headed mistakes because I never thought the problem through.
Critical thinkers, that is, people who think about their thinking, must be aware of their limitations. No individual, regardless of IQ or education, knows everything. Each of us has limitations. As an example, a physician with years of arduous medical training may know very little about architecture, cooking, or mechanics. A medical doctor may be able to speak on spleens and kidneys for hours on end; even so, the physician may know nothing about the stock market or, for that matter, how to boil an egg or sew a button onto a shirt.
Our thinking is based, in part, on what we know, what we do not know, and what we think we know. To admit what we don’t know and what might not know takes intellectual humility. Humility is the opposite of pride and pride is the doorway to destruction.
Intellectual humility is shown in those who understand the limitations of their knowledge. All of us have limitations that are based upon upbringing, education, life experiences, prejudices, personal philosophies, and preconceived ideas. Again, what we know, what we do not know, and what we think we know can limit our understanding of a particular person, circumstance, event, or subject matter.
For many of us, the road to wisdom begins with an admission of our intellectual shortcomings. Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul, perhaps one of the greatest intellects this world has known, wrote, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise (I Corinthians 3:18 ESV).” This was the Apostle Paul’s call for intellectual humility.
Much of what we know comes from our upbringing. As an example, a child brought up on a farm will likely have a better understanding of agriculture than, say, a child growing up in Manhattan. On the other hand, a child raised in Manhattan will grow up understanding the complexities of big city living more than the kid born and raised in Nebraska. Both of these individuals may have the same level of education; both the New Yorker and the Nebraskan may have similar IQs, but their varying upbringings may determine, to some extent, what they know and what they do not know.
My friend, I am going to challenge you not to allow prison to limit your understanding of the world. Let your mind extend beyond the perimeter fencing and guard towers—read good books, engage in meaningful conversations, and expose yourself to music and entertainment that will broaden your world.
God has given you a good mind. Let me assure you that He wants no one among us to check our brains in at the gate. Do not be afraid to think.
According to His will, I will see you at our next Tuesday evening meeting!