As a parent, would you rather your child grow up kind than smart?
I encounter this question a while ago on some Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test on 16personalities.com. This is one of the few questions that often makes me think a lot because it’s not really the type of question that you think the answer would be applicable to every situations.
In the past, on my repeated attempts to do the test, I always changed my answer because I cannot really decide which I want more. But, then I had an insightful conversation with one of my friends I met on an INTP group and this question was brought up once again. I thought, this time I wanted to really spend some time to really get in to the reasoning and fuel my mind.
The other day, when I opened my fridge, the thought of this crossed my mind right when I saw a tomato which immediately reminded me to someone from my past (yeah, I don’t know either how my mind works). I kept thinking… “Hmm.. he was kind, but he could be so biased at times. I don’t want my kids to be like that!” I thought, I wanted a smart child, rather than a kind one.
But later that afternoon, I ponder and thought that kind people will always have some kind of x-factor that allows them to grow better. Something that will allow them to expand their limits beyond any logical reasoning. And they say that the world needs more kind people, than smart ones. But, is it true though? Does the world really need more kind people? Or is it the contrary?
Later that night, I changed my mind once again cause I thought, if someone is actually smart, they will be smart enough to know contexts and big pictures. They will be wise. They know better, including knowing why, when, and how to be properly kind.
It’s really the case when you never know the right answer until you face a specific instance that demands you to be wise and choose one, for that one occasion only.
I had spent the next few days feeling comfortable with my answer to be neutral on the matter. Until today.
After some thinking, I realized that I personally can’t really stand people who frequently miss contexts. People who, instead of perceiving things more intelligently, decide to do things because they see them as acts of kindness, without the urge to further examine them. This kind of people often come across like ignorant people who don’t care the magnitude of their actions.
On the other side, I hate to see ill-mannered, rude intelligent people as much as I hate to see kind people who think they do something for a greater good (while they’re actually not). Intelligent ones can be a jerk, can be compassionate; as kind ones can be stupid, can be smart.
Sure.. there are always limits to intelligence. What we now think is right, we could find it wrong later down the road. But, I guess, when you have that intelligence, you will always continue to learn no matter what and you’ll finally get to the point when you know you just can’t be that sure of everything. That will be the time when someone intelligent realizes that there are much more to life than just being intelligent. It may take long processes to get there. I tend to relate much to this.
Same thing could be said that kind people could also learn how to be smart. I agree that if someone wants to learn, they can. People learn in different ways. It may take long and special methods to get there. Also a long process and awful lot of hard works, too. But there is a possibility that a kind person can eventually get there, too. However, I can’t personally relate much to this one.
I think, the key difference between both kinds is that smartness that’s learned is slightly different with inherent intelligence. Inherent intelligence is more like the ability to be natural in understanding complicated schemes. Learned smartness is more like book-smartness. Meanwhile, kindness that’s learned could actually be more contextual than kindness that’s inherent, which is in a way, better.
So….. This is gonna be weird.
For me, being a rational person who craves for constant logical practices, the concept of being kind is definitely more difficult to grasp because it often works in a structure that doesn’t rely much on rationality. I even start thinking whether I’m not a kind enough person so I can’t really understand that. Have I been missing something important by not understanding that?
I think, we live in a world where logical languages are used more rarely than illogical ones. People connect more to life stories, to people’s journey, rather than said or written logical words. Maybe it’s what’s wrong with the world, but maybe it’s just the way it works.
Both intelligence and kindness shape the world on its own way. Like a journey. A long one.
What I see is… at the end of the day, logical arguments will have its limitation to understand how most people react to certain things. It will have its limitation to convey apperceptions to those who simply can’t understand. This is where kindness goes further because it speaks a more universal language.
But, is “the end of the day” the only definitive stage? Or is the journey, which is influenced as much by intelligence, also as important – if not more important because it’s the huge portion that shapes that “the end of the day”?
Having said that, I realize fully that it is more difficult for me to tolerate most people for not being intelligent. But, I think when it came to my child (hypothetically), I wouldn’t really care if they are intelligent or not. I can always accept my child for not being intelligent. But, their natural penchant to be kind to their surroundings would matter to me. It would also quite probably arouse an impact to me in a personal level, about a concept that’s often difficult for me to grasp.
Will I not be worried that they would grow up to be like most people around me who annoy me on day-to-day basis? Of course, I’m worried. But, when I look at myself, I’m more confident to teach them to be smart, much more than I can teach them how to be kindhearted.
Now, let me hear your opinion on this. Would you rather your child grow up kind than smart? A sharing on how you come to your decision would be nice to hear!