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Humbly and respectfully share what you know: that’s the foundation of wisdom

Many years ago, when I was still in college and one of the subjects of study was Greek, at that time I went to visit my cousins in Uruguay and when walking along a beach I noticed an interesting inscription on the door of a house. Then, I said, “Zoé. Life”, and I kept walking.

A few steps later, I stopped and discovered my cousins were still in front of the door of the house, looking at the same inscription in Greek that I had seen a few seconds before, but amazed that now someone had finally "deciphered" the mystery of that inscription.

They told me then that for years they had passed through that place almost daily, always noticing those strange three letters in front of the house, but not knowing what they meant. And one day, I arrived and suddenly I clarified the meaning to them. But the truth is, what was “almost a miracle” for them was simply the result of a few years of studying Greek in college.

I remember that anecdote every time I meet someone who assumes that I know what I know (practically nothing) because I have absorbed it from some strange source, and not because I have dedicated decades to study.

In other words, I have no superpower and there is nothing magical or supernatural in my (almost non-existent) knowledge. In fact, many of those who, before or after me, traveled a similar path of study have reached levels that I can only dream of. And situations like the one I went through years ago with my cousins put me back into my own ignorance.

For this reason, when I meet someone who amazes me with what they know because they know it spontaneously and share it without boasting or arrogance, I enjoy it greatly.

A few weeks ago, for example, I met a friend to deliver something to him. Due to the pandemic, we agreed that I would not get out of the car, so the transfer of the package was made with me inside the vehicle, and my friend and I both with our arms outstretched.

After receiving the package, my friend told me “That doesn't sound good” and, using only the sound of my car running, he accurately detected a problem that otherwise would not have been detected in time and it would have costly to repair.

I can read and understand Greek, but I can't hear and understand cars like the person I just mentioned. There is no point asking my friend to translate Greek and there is no point in asking me to diagnose a car problem by listening to its sound.

But it does make sense to share that knowledge when it is prudent, necessary, or possible. After all, sharing knowledge with others in the right circumstances and at the right times is the very foundation of wisdom, both personal and collective, with the humility of knowing that you don't know and respecting those who know.

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