Bob Tamasy: Drowning In Information, Starving For Wisdom

  • Thursday, November 17, 2022
  • Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Sometimes it doesn’t require many words to say something profound. Recently someone posted on social media a photo of a business marquee that read, “We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom.” What a concise, nine-word appraisal of our society today!

Consider how communication – and access to it – has changed through the years. At the birth of our nation, communications were extremely slow. It took days, sometimes even weeks, for news of even important events to spread.

The speed for communicating gradually increased from that point, but even in the early 1900s, the process of passing along information moved at a snail’s pace. News was delivered either “hot off the presses” in newspapers just lifted off printing presses, or by radio, with individuals or families huddling around their audio devices trying to discern through the static what was going on in the world.

Even in the 1980s, after I had wrapped up my 10-year career as a newspaper editor, the communications realm could not have anticipated the barrage of information we have now. USA Today was setting the newspaper world on its ear, using satellite technology to send digital files to printing plants across the country to produce and distribute the newspaper from coast to coast.

Cable TV was just on the verge of exploding; few people anticipated one day having hundreds of networks and stations available at the click of a remote. Email was a closely kept secret then, a luxury enjoyed by a relative few, and the Internet was little more than a rumor.

Fast forward to the present. We’ve arrived at what the late sports commentator Howard Cosell would have called “a virtual plethora” of communications options. (If you don’t know what “plethora” means, or who Howard Cosell was, you can Google it.) Want to communicate with someone, or seek information on virtually any topic? Pick your poison – and it sometimes seems that way.

Go to the library? Who needs to do that when you can consult one of many search engines from the comfort of your in-home computer? Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the ever-expanding social media options give us all the information we need, along with opinions to align with our personal biases. Want to be more personal? Send an email or a text.

The Internet seems as vast as the universe. Cable TV’s myriad channels are supplemented and even supplanted by streaming services. While print newspapers seem destined to go the way of dodos and dinosaurs, there’s no lack of choices for news, opinion – and propaganda.

So, we are overwhelmed with information – or as the marquee declares, “drowning” in it. But where, oh where can we find wisdom?

Wisdom has lagged terribly despite the explosion of information and knowledge because wisdom and information are as closely related as horses and cockroaches. What’s the difference? One definition puts it this way: Wisdom is the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge and good judgment. That is, wisdom takes information and knowledge, processes them to arrive at understanding, then puts that to work through appropriate application.

However, wisdom is not opinions and biases buttressed only by information that supports one’s suppositions. In an age when folks proudly declare “my truth,” where can we turn for true wisdom instead of boundless confusion? There’s no greater source or authority than the Word of God, the Bible.

Years ago, I wrote a book titled, Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace. While the content was aimed at the business and professional world, I’ve found the wisdom from Proverbs useful and applicable for every area of life and endeavor. Consider one of its first statements: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

That’s not intended as an insult, but as a declaration that if we’re looking for true wisdom, we’re foolish not to make God and His teachings integral to our pursuit. Because as a verse that follows asserts, “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).

What’s the value of godly wisdom? How about “priceless”? “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the main who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 3:13-15).

In Proverbs, called “the Book of Wisdom” by many, hundreds of passages speak about wisdom directly and indirectly. But throughout the Scriptures we find encouragement to seek and embrace godly wisdom. For instance, The Psalms start by stating, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2)

We could cite many other passages, but one seems particularly fitting for our current state of drowning in information but starving for wisdom: “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?... For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Corinthians 1:20-25). Why do we lack wisdom? Could it be because we refuse to look to God for it?

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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