Johnson City Record Courier
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Mustard Seeds
Knowledge vs. Wisdom
Thursday, October 13, 2011 • Posted October 13, 2011

My father attended high school at the Academia Juarez in the little Mexican town of Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua. The town was nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains which provided ideal hunting and fishing for the men and boys of the community.

On one particular break from school, my Dad went on a deer hunting expedition with several of his schoolmates. All were mounted on horseback and each carried a rifle and camping gear. They had a marvelous time…until tragedy struck. Early one morning they divided up into small groups and spread out in the rough, pine tree covered terrain in search of the biggest buck.

I don’t recall all the details; suffice it to say that one of the boys saw a movement in the brush, assumed it to be a deer and opened fire. A young comrade went down seriously wounded. The boys stemmed the bleeding as best they could and selected my Dad to go down the mountain to Colonia Juarez to get the boy’s father—Dad supposedly had the best horse.

After a long, tedious and dangerous trip, taking many shortcuts off the almost nonexistent trails and wagon roads, Dad arrived in Colonia Juarez in the middle of the night, ill prepared to carry out the daunting task of informing the boy’s father of his son’s potentially fatal injury. Fearing that they would not be able to bring the boy down by horseback it was decided to return to the deer camp in the model-A Ford—one of the few motorized vehicles in town.

My father said that he had never worked so hard in his young life. "We practically had to carry the car up that mountain," he said. The father arrived at the camp in time to cradle his son’s head in his lap just minutes before the boy passed through the veil.

Now, those boys and their fathers were supposedly experienced hunters. I am sure the father of the inadvertent shooter had taught his son to be sure of his target before pulling the trigger. The boy had the knowledge but perhaps, due to his youth, lacked the wisdom that might have averted the tragedy.

"It is said that during an epidemic of cholera in a great city, a scientific man proved to his own satisfaction, by chemical and microscopical tests, that the water supply was infected, and through it contagion was being spread.

"He proclaimed the fact throughout the city, and warned all against the use of unboiled water. Many of the people, although incapable of comprehending his method of investigation, far less of repeating such for themselves, had faith in his warning words, followed his instructions, and escaped the death to which their careless and unbelieving fellows succumbed. Their faith was a saving one.

"To the man himself, the truth by which so many lives had been spared was a matter of knowledge. He had actually perceived, under the microscope, proof of the existence of death-dealing germs in the water; he had demonstrated their virulence; he knew of what he spoke. Nevertheless, in a moment of forgetfulness he drank of the unsterilized water, and soon thereafter died, a victim to the plague. His knowledge did not save him, convincing though it was; yet others, whose reliance was only that of confidence or faith in the truth that he declared, escaped the threatening destruction.

"He had knowledge; but, was he wise? Knowledge is to wisdom what belief is to faith, one an abstract principle, the other a living application. Not possession merely, but the proper use of knowledge constitutes wisdom." (James E. Talmage, "Articles of Faith," pp. 99-100)

Confucius said, "He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger!" And then there was Mark Twain who pronounced that, "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read."

It is written, "And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith." (D&C 88:118)

May we have the wisdom to seek knowledge before we pull that trigger!


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