A friend, visiting from New York, shared a story this week about an attractive young woman aboard a subway train. She was chatting amiably with another passenger, reminiscing about college days.
“So many of the professors,” she complained, “were bent on teaching you to think exactly as they thought, to embrace liberal causes without questioning. The way to get a good grade was to regurgitate the professor’s viewpoint on every issue.” She cited one professor, then another, who had fostered discord and anarchy, criticizing authority wherever it might be found—from the halls of government to the pulpits of churches.
Rather, she opined, a truly good professor should encourage you to think for yourself—helping you to examine issues, consider the consequences, and chart your own course based on rational analysis of cause and effect, social and political consequences, and natural law. Among faculty at her college, one professor stood out for his encouragement of creative thinking, helping students to wrestle with a problem and to choose the approach which would most benefit themselves, their families, and society at large. This professor, she averred, was a true educator—for he alone taught his students to employ reason in the pursuit of truth.
“Very good!” my friend thought. “A wise young woman!”
But then she stood up. In a nanosecond, my friend’s critical eye spotted proof positive that her maturation into an analytical Citizen of the Republic was still underway.
The giveaway: She was wearing a Justin Bieber t-shirt—signed by the pop star himself. And, explained my friend, Canadian teen heartthrob Justin Bieber had just performed in concert in New York. The first 150 people in line to buy tickets for the concert received an autographed t-shirt. And in case I still didn’t understand the significance of the shirt, he explained that those 150 people stood in line for
three days to claim their prize.
This wise young woman had apparently just squandered three days of her life camped out in a ticket line. Perhaps she had missed three days of college classes to bring home the prize: an autographed shirt, touched by the Hand that combed the Hair that crowned the Head of The Bieber himself. And then—the pièce de résistance in the whole sorry tale—she got it dirty by wearing it on the first day. What, was she nuts?!
The moral of the story: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Wisdom, it would seem, is as elusive as ever.