Two Elements of Greatness

Knowledge and courage are the elements of Greatness. They give immortality, because they are immortal. Each is as much as he knows, and the wise can do anything. A person without knowledge, a world without light. Wisdom and strength, eyes and hands. Knowledge without courage is sterile.

~Balthasar Gracian (adapted).

The powerful simplicity of this, the fourth Aphorism of Balthasar Gracian, reeks truth as a motive to greatness – at any level we choose or are hence able.

Knowledge is Trust and Power

Some people will separate out knowledge as data and information. This is not the intent of Gracian – it goes much further than that.

When we have superior knowledge we’re wiser in our application of it, not issuing knowledge, for instance, where it’s not required and won’t be of benefit. Here there is trust involved also; not to abuse the knowledge we have.

Knowledge is basically wisdom. It’s the chief requisite for life, for whoever acquires these (and they may only be acquired) is blessed abundantly with the ability to do anything they choose… and that’s the paradox; given the choice, they will only choose wisely.

Courage is Obedience

Courage is the will to do morally what the conscience and our knowledge is telling us to do. Courage is obedience to these. Without the courage to simply obey the calculated reason of our minds and hearts we become useless; yes, sterile.

Courage is the big difference we make in life.

A Picture Together

We love family portraits. And, so, how does this one look; the partners – knowledge and courage – married together? Let’s try a couple of different angles or a lens or two.

Times call for one more than the other, and that one – for the situation of design – comes to the fore.

Knowledge is our planning tool, for reflecting and envisioning. It opens up consideration for decisions.

Courage takes the baton already run halfway around the track and it sprints for the finish line. Courage capitalises on knowledge’s persistent hard work. The guiding eye is to knowledge and wisdom, as the hand is to courage and strength in managing the feat. Both are necessary.

At any point in life the seesaw warrants that either knowledge or courage must take pride-of-place. It is a great discernment to apply the right technique to just the right time.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.