Not smart enough…yet


Some time ago I began this column with these words:

“Some people are dumb and some people are smart. There are dunces and there are Einsteins. That seems to sum it up… except for the rest of us in the middle.

The question is how do you move along that line from dumb to smart? It looks like an uphill climb some days, doesn’t it? Maybe the best thing is to figure out how to start the climb.

The good news is that you are just where you should be to start getting smarter. The perfect place to start from – the only place you can start from – is right where you are. We often think that we are just not smart enough, and that ignorance is a bad thing. But it’s not really so bad if it’s the perfect place to start from, is it?

Ignorance is merely the badge you wear that says, “Here’s what I’m going to learn next.” It’s been said that half of being smart is knowing what you are dumb about.”

So today’s question is: Is ignorance really bliss? Apparently not. Ancient scriptures remind us, “…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 6:8)

Ignorance can be deadly… but it doesn’t have to be. Any ostrich that gets its head out of the sand lives to run and flap its wings and amaze a few more tourists for at least one more day.

In the last few years we have learned more about police drug busts, addiction and overdose deaths than most of us could have imagined, or wanted to know. Our bubble of ignorance has been burst.

But please don’t make the old mistake about ignorance… ignorance is not stupidity. It is only a lack of knowledge. The smartest people I know are humble enough to know what they need to know next.

So this week your Jamestown Gazette explores what some very smart people are doing about it. There is good news. Over and over again, we find that our communities, friends and neighbors are stepping up to the challenge and crafting care, cures and new conditions that make a difference for people struggling with the problems of substance abuse and addiction.

The problem with knowledge and good news, however, is that we all breathe a sigh of relief, decide all is now well and become complacent. Beware: good news is not always all the news. Our new knowledge is only a start. There is still much to learn and more to do.

The best kind of optimism is allied with caution. Ignorance has not yet been entirely defeated. In fact the battle has just begun.

Knowledge that creates action is the best antidote to ignorance. Best of all, in this battle, knowledge saves lives. So please read on, learn what you can, and enlist in the fight.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

Previous articlePenguin Trivia
Next articleStarting the Year on Roads to Recovery
Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.