The Daily Stoic for March 22nd. “The sign of true education”.

“What is it then to be properly educated? It is learning to apply our natural preconceptions to the right things according to Nature, and beyond that to separate the things that lie within our power from those that don’t.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 1.22.9–10a

Yesterday, I lost my stoic calmness. It had not happened for quite a long time.

I was talking to a guy from TechHub, the startup community I work at. At one point, the conversation turned to immigration. Before I knew it, I found myself arguing with a guy that claimed that black people -specially Africans and Pakistanis- are rats, evil by nature, and denying the Holocaust.

I have to admit I got furious and emotional. But I was completely shocked of finding an educated entrepreneur, who was in fact an immigrant in Latvia, defending such extreme, racist arguments.

This incident reminded me why I left Mensa. While I met some wonderful people there, after some meetings I perceived an elitist stench. Some people there believed that an educated person is better than a non-educated one, and most of them believed than a smart person was better than a dumb one.

The Sign Of True Education, And True Intelligence

I love this fragment from today’s stoic:

“A degree on a wall means you’re educated as much as shoes on your feet mean you’re walking.”

While I would say that education can help you be a better person, a diploma is only a very small part of the equation. Reading is essential, and I am a book lover, but you won’t find all the answers there. You need to look for them outside, in the real world, and then inside yourself.

Traveling, getting to know other people, other cultures, other points of view… that’s what helps you develop empathy for other people, not just your people, but other human beings.

Then, questioning what makes you different, and why you need to feel different, smarter, more educated, better, or racially superior, will hopefully make you realize that you shouldn’t judge others so easily. If you, like me, were born in an European country, you are a privileged person. You had food on your plate, and never had to escape war or leave your country because there’s no future there.

Education Is More Than A Diploma

In that sense, education is more than just a diploma hanging on your wall.

It’s what you know, yes, but also what you have experienced and lived, the places you have visited.

It’s how you treat others and how you respect others.

You show it with your words, but also with your actions, specially with others.

As for me, I need to learn to avoid these kind of arguments or heated discussions. Most of the times these people won’t change their mind. So what’s the point of arguing with them?

Conclusion

Today’s Daily Stoic, “The sign of true education”, discusses how having a degree on a wall is just a small part of the equation. During my life, I have found people with a diploma lacking most basic level of intelligence or empathy, and amazing people who dropped from college.

Yesterday was one of those days. I lost my stoic calmness with an educated guy trying to convince me that black people were evil by nature… That guy may be educated, but still has a long path in front of him to the true education.

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