What I Know Now

Robert Kachur, Ph.D., English Department

Until I turned 40, I assumed that middle-aged people—the people who tend to control business, education, and government—were, by and large, smarter than I was. The big revelation to me, once I started the journey into my own middle aged years, was that, for the most part, they aren’t. The vast majority of people running the world are not significantly smarter or wiser than I am now—or for that matter, perhaps than I was at 25. Each may have their own specific area of knowledge, as I do, but it tends to be rather small. The middle aged or older person who possesses an extraordinary array of intelligence, fresh vision, or wisdom is rare indeed and is not necessarily well known or even successful by society’s standards.

My reactions to this revelation were, and continue to be, various. On one hand, realizing the world is largely run by people no smarter than I am is disorienting and scary: No wonder everything is such a mess! But on the other hand, with this revelation has come the knowledge that I too can be a player on the local, state, national, or world stage. I am as well equipped as I am going to be, as I need to be, at least to begin to pursue what I feel called to do. The competition, after all, isn’t that stiff.

Compiled by Geoff Peckham