This letter is being written from the beautiful Kellogg Conference Center on the campus of Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama.
If you are an upwardly mobile individual, you may have wondered from time to time, how does one know that he is educated? In other words, what are the marks of an educated man?
Here are some of the marks that I have observed about truly knowledgeable people or those considered truly educated:
First, they have a healthy and humble respect and reverence for Almighty God. This principle of an educated man is found in the Book of Wisdom, which is the book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible. The verse reads: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”
A person who does not acknowledge and reverence God Almighty is not considered a wise or educated man. In fact, God considers him a fool. “He is ignorant and knoweth nothing.” No matter how many years of schooling he has behind him, if he does not recognize and respect and fear Almighty God, he is a fool according to the Word of God. Psalm 14:1a says, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”
There is an old negro saying that also comes to mind here: “Education without salvation is damnation.”
The other day I saw a very striking sign at a church. It read:
The dead atheist
The dead agnostic
and the dead saint
All believe God exists now.
A second mark of an educated man is that he is humble enough to admit his ignorance. He realizes that no matter how much he learns, he will never learn or know everything.
Third, a truly educated man continues his education long after his years in high school and college. He learns until he dies. In the words of Quincy Jones: “He grows until he goes.”
Another mark of a truly educated man is that he is authentic. He is an original. He is for real. He is himself. He knows he does not have to be like anyone else. He is therefore original in his thinking, his speaking, and his writing. An educated man is normally very comfortable with himself as well as with others. One commentator uses this phrase: “He is comfortable in his own skin.” I like it.
Another mark of an educated man is that he uses his education and knowledge for wise and good purposes. Of course, he uses it to generate a living for himself and his family. But not only for that, he also uses it to help others who are less fortunate than himself.
Sixth, to me, one of the greatest marks of an educated man is the ability to express himself clearly through his speech and through his writing.
Then, an educated man is a disciplined man. A disciplined man is willing and able to “do the worst first.” He is willing and ready to tackle the difficult jobs and tasks even when he does not feel like doing them.
Eighth, the educated man exudes an inexplicable quiet confidence about himself. He is not loud, boisterous or arrogant. But you somehow get the feeling that he knows what he is doing. He normally does not say much, but you somehow sense that if he does say something, it would be more important and weighty than what most people have to say.
Ninth, the educated man is not a perfect man, but he strives to be a moral man. He has a strong sense of what is right and wrong. And it is his aim to do the right thing. Because of this, he normally finds favor in the sight of God and man.
Finally, another mark of an educated man is that he understands etiquette and protocol. In other words, not only is he smart; he knows how to look smart as well. He knows what to say in different settings. He knows how to act at a backyard barbecue as well as at a stately dinner. He dresses and acts appropriately on any given occasion.
Dear Y.B.M., I strongly suggest that you strive to be this kind of man.
For The Educated Black Man,
P.T.: Power Thoughts
T. S. Eliot said, “It is part of the function of education to help us escape — not from our own time, for we are bound by that — but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our own time.”
Aristotle said, “Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.”
Roy Wilkins said, “Nothing is more important than a good education.”
Someone once said, “Without education you are not going anywhere in this world. Education is the passport to our future.”
Victor Hugo said, “He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”
H. G. Wells said, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”