Knowledge versus Wisdom—There Is a Difference
The pursuit of knowledge in some cultures is synonymous with bringing honor on the family. Those who teach knowledge are highly respected. It is certainly correct that knowledge empowers people and there are countless examples of people who on gaining an education have influenced their generation in some way or have changed the course of their society or even their world.
Yet, as virtuous as it may be to have knowledge, without wisdom, knowledge can be dangerous at worse, or a waste of time at best. Wisdom is best defined simply as applied knowledge. It is the ability to take what is known of the world and of people, things and places and to make choices based on that knowledge. Knowledge knows the facts about something, but wisdom knows best how to apply those facts to the real world and to add an understanding of right and wrong to that knowledge.
Without wisdom, knowledge can be dangerous. It can lead to character flaws like conceit and selfishness. Without wisdom there is often little concept of the consequences of using knowledge without consideration of others or the impact on places and things. Knowledge can often lead to subjective actions, whereas wisdom has learned to be objective and to consider that there are two sides to every story.
People who speak with wisdom are often highly sought after for their advice. People do not just want to hear knowledge that they can read in a book or learn for themselves. Life experiences and knowledge provide a strong combination that wise people are often possess and it is because they themselves have learned to apply wisdom to a situation that others seek them out for advice. There is a common belief that wisdom comes with age or experience. This has its basis on this understanding that in our life experiences we learn to put our knowledge into action in a relevant way.
Practically speaking, all of us can learn to be wise. We may benefit from learning from a mentor who can guide us to think deeply about our life, the things we know and learn and the circumstances and events that shape our lives. As we consider these things in relation to their effect on our own life and the lives of others and learn to apply them to other situations, we are on the road to true wisdom.