Knowledge is overrated until it leads to a change in behavior. Knowledge unhinged from reality is quite literally useless. I can know anything I want to know and still be lacking in the way to live fully. When I was a kid, I used to watch Fantasy Island. I know this dates me. But there was this one episode I have never forgotten. There was an incredibly smart, well read, man whose fantasy was to be able to do everything he had read about. So, something crazy would happen (like he was attacked by sword wielding assailants) and he would respond triumphantly (with great swordsman skill). The person he was with would be surprised and say, "I didn’t know you knew how to sword fight?" And he would say, "Well, I have read about it!"
I want this fantasy for everyone. Think about it. What if we actually knew HOW to do WHAT we already know? What if instead of just memorizing scripture verses we LIVED THEM OUT? How much of a difference would that make in this world??
There is an interesting fact about the Hebrew understanding of knowledge and skill. They have always been connected. Those things combined made a reality called "wisdom." And wisdom is different from the idea of knowledge in that it is deeply connected to how we live. Knowledge has become about collecting cerebral information. (We can blame the Greeks, I suppose, but it really doesn’t matter who started it because we are the ones living it.) The reality of that way of thinking and living is that you can be really smart and still live stupid. But wisdom, in the Hebrew tradition, is about people who know things that make a difference in how they live. Wisdom is connected to the fabric of living, not disconnected from it. And that MATTERS.
In our world, most likely as a hangover from the ideals of modernity that suggested there was no mountain of information that humanity could not conquer and that to know MORE things at a faster rate would ensure a better world, has quite simply crashed. If knowledge could change the world, we’d be changed. Instead, it seems like the knowledge experiment was a colossal failure and what is left is this big mess of a world, filled with smart people who still live stupid.
What is needed? INTEGRATION
We need to integrate what we KNOW with HOW WE LIVE. This is the pattern of transformation. How many people do you know who have been to a doctor's office for high cholesterol and the threat of diabetes leave the office and grab a cheeseburger, shrug their shoulders and say, "Oh well." Or how many others do you know who watch a documentary on slave labor and head to the store to get a cheap deal from a store chain they know is practicing unethical production at the expense of real people?
If we are honest -- we are these people. I am this kind of person.
THE ULTIMATE COST OF DISCONNECTING KNOWLEDGE FROM LIVING IS A DISCONNECTED LIFE.
We are these people because we have disconnected knowledge from living. We’ve done this with our faith, our bodies, our relationships, well, our lives. And the cost is unbearable. The ultimate cost of disconnecting knowledge from living is a disconnected life. It brings an inner conflict and sense of dread to our everyday living when we know better and don’t live it.
So what do we do? Well, that'll take a lifetime to answer fully but here are a few things I've been trying to actually live out the principles of Amplify Peace. After listening and learning there is a way of living differently.
- Connect with yourself and God. Find some time (preferably in the morning) to connect with yourself. Often our disconnection with others is related to the fact that we are not even in contact with our own bodies or minds. How do we actually feel? What do we need/want? For me, this happens through making time and space for quiet and connection with God. Just spending time with God and going through a little list of how I am and what I need for this day. I’ve got some favorite podcasts that lead me through some listening prayer exercises that even work while I’m in motion (mostly in airplanes or in line at airports) or I've also used Journalling, coloring prayer, yoga, and anything that helps me dial down and check in with me and God.
- Connect with OTHERS. We keep waiting for someone else to make the move. Someone else needs to invite us into the group. Someone else should invite us for dinner. Make the first move to connect with others. Join a group. Invite someone out for a coffee. Look for a neighborhood project or action you could join. Get connected to others.
- Connect to the WORLD. Pick one thing you’ve learned about through intentional listening. A need in your community or in your world. Then press into it to learn more about it and how you can get involved. Then GET INVOLVED. Don’t be afraid. Don’t second-guess yourself. Don’t talk yourself out of it because you aren’t smart enough or young enough or it’s not the right time -- just do it. An ACTION that will re-emphasize your knowledge and transfer the knowledge from your head to your life. This will lead to an integrated life and you will feel the connection.
NOTE: Schedule actions in so you don’t have to make them on the spot. This is a practical detail but it really helps. Years ago, an article I read called the "Tyranny of the Urgent" explained how the daily realities of everyday life crowd out the priorities of our lives. We look back over a month and realize that all of our priorities were not met because they got crowded out by the "urgent" daily tasks. That article suggested scheduling in your priorities first and then the left over time was available for daily tasks. It was solid advice.
What are your priorities? If you know you want to exercise for your health -- schedule it in. And then DON’T think about it. Just do it. Our minds get in the way of our living. We overthink our decisions and out-think ourselves out of good ones, all the time. If visiting a friend who is lonely is a priority for you -- schedule it in and then just do it when it is scheduled. Don’t think it over again. If quiet time in the morning is a priority -- then schedule it in and do it when the time comes without having to "decide" to do it again. You’ve already decided. Less thinking, more action.
If all that I have heard and learned were put into action, my life would be different. I know this intuitively. What I’d like to do is demonstrate it daily. It’s time to live differently. I hope you’ll join us in practicing simple principles to Make Peace in our world.