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There’s Smart…and then there’s Smart

I’m smart.

There, I’ve said it. Yes, I am. Even at my age, I spell well. My grammar is adventurous but usually correct. I almost always know when to start a new paragraph, what to capitalize, and what verb tense to use. I know the Oxford comma rules the day and that the term “I seen” needs to be drummed from the English language. What I don’t understand, I know how to look up—The Chicago Manual of Style and Google are among my very best friends.

Along that same line, I get the news from more than one source and try never to quote anything I haven’t fact-checked. If I do—and it does happen—I correct myself and grovel. A little groveling, in case you didn’t know, is good for everyone. If I’ve put up an incorrect post on Facebook, I take it down or correct it. And, yes, grovel. If someone cares to call me a liar or a snowflake because they don’t like what I say, I bristle a lot, call them silent names that are much harder to spell than those, and subside, breathing deeply and thinking of karma. Oh, yes, karma.

So, yes, thank you very much, I’m smart.

Then there’s mathematics. (Which I just spelled without the “e” in the middle—thank you, autocorrect.) I had learned multiplication, long division, fractions, and decimals by the fifth grade. I could show my work, get the right answer, and still have time to pass notes in class. I can still do all those things—although it must be admitted that my handwriting isn’t very legible. However, when I show my work, my kids and grandkids look at it in stupefaction. And when they mention further mathematical processes, like algebra or…any of those others, I ask them if they’d like a cookie. Because I don’t know any of it. None. My son-in-law the math teacher says I use it all the time and maybe I do, but I don’t know when I’m going it.

And science. The last science class I took was first-year biology in high school, which I’m pretty sure I passed because the teacher was either sorry for me or because he didn’t want to Windo over the Sink Logohave me back again the next year. To this day, I’m grateful to Gloria Beecher Dance for sharing her sketches of mitosis and meiosis. I didn’t get them then—or now—but she tried.

So, does this mean I’m not smart after all? Dang!

No. It doesn’t. What it means is that we’re all smart about different things. No surprise there, right? But there’s more to it, things we all need to remember.

Number One, my smartness is no better than yours. When you mix up their, there, and they’re, I may think it is, but I’m wrong. Number one and a half is that your (note: your, not you’re) learnedness is no better than mine, either. It may make you feel better to call me the grammar police and snort that it doesn’t matter, but it makes you look…not smart. If I make fun of you for understanding the mathematical stuff like PEMDAS, the conventional order of operations, it makes me look even less math savvy than I am. Number Two, the biggest thing we need to take from this paragraph is a reminder to Look It Up. No matter what it is. Google has made it so easy and quick that there’s no excuse for you to write to when you mean too or for me to use the wrong letters when I’m trying to remember PEMDAS.

Then there’s Number Three, the one that reminds us of how much we need each other’s smartness. This is a big one.

I’m a Christian and I’ve read—in pieces—the Bible, but to say I understand it would be a gross exaggeration of my comprehension. Studying is good and asking questions of Biblical scholars is good. Because then I get the benefit of someone else’s knowledge, which is far greater than mine. I think choosing a couple of verses that suit how I feel about things and running with it isn’t the way to go.

I use electricity every single day. I know some safety measures, but mostly I know how to flip light switches and plug things in. I count on people with an entirely different skillset from me to keep me from killing myself. If some of them don’t know the their, there, they’re thing, it certainly doesn’t make them less smart than me. When it comes to what’s going on behind the switch plate, I want their ability, not mine.

Have you ever watched people who work with their hands? Isn’t it amazing? Or artists who create a whole word with a handful of brushstrokes? Or people who prepare meals and get everything done at the exact same time? Do you know caregivers who answer the same questions over and over every day, clean messes we wouldn’t want to, but whose feet hit the floor running every day because that’s who they are?

What smart people they are. And you are. And I am. Being smart means respecting others’ knowledge, their jobs, their beliefs, and the fact that their rights are as important as yours. It also means, for all our sakes, that when you’re not sure, you should look it up.

Have a great week.


Liz maintains a blog that you can visit by clicking this link:

Get her latest Romance Novel Nice to Come Home from Amazon by clicking on this link:

Nice to Come Home To is the third book in the Lake Minigua series, following Every Time We Say Goodbye and The Happiness Pact.

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