Education must be a way of life, not just a degree.

A degree does not equal intelligence. It means that you studied well and applied yourself. There are several known levels of intelligence, a Harvard psychologist documenting eight in recent years. * Being book smart falls into just one category.

A college education has become the equivalent of what a high school diploma was back in the day – a time when high school graduates harbored a maturity that most 60-year-olds don’t even reach today. Couples married at ages 20 and 21, sometimes younger, sometimes older. They secured jobs with pensions and the mindset was one of loyalty, a time when people worked at the same place for a lifetime. That was the norm. They worked hard, put family first, and respected the value of a dollar. Whether college educated or not, the average mindset was one of simplicity, civility, and community. Children played in the park until the lights came on in the evening. There was one car per family – no seatbelts, vehicles with ashtrays, manual windows, and no power steering. Mothers focused more on their children than their abs, putting all energy into the home and who lived under their roof rather than getting Botox, feeling as if they weren’t enough, or needing a Mommy time out.

Today, a four-year degree isn’t enough. We need a masters then maybe a PhD. Trade school enrollment is down and the desire to work has dwindled – and we need both desperately. Some look down on people who do not have a degree of some type, as if that defines them, as if that piece of paper confirms their intelligence. Not always the case. My grandfather had an eighth-grade education and was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known who had two successful careers and character traits that only the greatest generation seem to have deemed essential to life.

Yet the irony is, America seems to have lost their smarts. When the pomp and circumstance of receiving an advanced degree is behind them and securing a high-paying job is settled, that’s it. Yes, they will complete trainings that are job related and research things that are of interest to them, usually where the next dream vacation will be or which cleaning service to hire. But when it comes to anything beyond that, the pool of people seems to drastically shrink down to a select few.

Congratulations on your piece of paper, but what now? Many want to complain about society, the world, and all of the current issues plaguing us as citizens of the US and beyond. Many live on Facebook, reading the opinions of others then forming their own opinion based on unfounded information or facts. They watch or read the news, making decisions based on the ‘BREAKING NEWS’ of the day – then switch to another channel to watch the real housewives of somewhere or the 90-day fiancé.

Some of these folks are the same people who will sound off on social media, armed with strong opinions and the desire to poison everyone on the internet with their venom. They don’t get involved in their communities – only complain. They don’t research a topic – only feed off of another’s opinion. And they don’t care enough to care – only wonder what happened when everything goes wrong.

Education is a way of life. It is something that must be practiced every day. We should focus as much on education as we do washing our face and brushing our teeth. I’m not talking about getting another degree or certificate. I’m talking about simply listening or watching the news – then researching topics important to you and our future to learn the facts.

Today, integrity and character are lacking in our American leadership and media. Everyone seems to be bought and sold. Ratings are king. Egos are inflated. They are all busy bashing or making fun of each other, disrespecting each other, and trying to outdo each other. Respect and dignity have died a fast, not a slow, death. Arrogance is perceived as confidence, and loudness is perceived as strength. It seems people would rather buy into lies from those with charisma than handle the truth from those who are genuine and dignified.

So, let me ask you – why would you trust them? Why would you take anything that is said or reported at face value?

“We are on different sides of the aisle.” Maybe so, but you’re all in the same room and working for the collective whole. Most of the discord is because people don’t take the time to learn what the other person stands for or why. There is a middle ground. There is a way to bring our country together – if everyone grows up and works together. This isn’t a comedy show. This isn’t reality TV. This is real life – and it is our responsibility to get educated and get involved.

Don’t stop learning. Get educated. The media shouldn’t be your sole source of information, nor should our government. Research – we have the world at our fingertips with the internet – but be sure to look at the source of the information. Who was behind it? Who sponsored it? Who is benefiting? Is it non-partisan – really? Read. Research. Discuss with those who think like you, and those who don’t, even more importantly.  Then do it again.

Whether you paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a degree or not, never stop learning or educating yourself – and don’t be afraid to share that knowledge when someone asks for your opinion, because you will be armed with the facts.

*Harvard psychologist: There are 8 types of intelligence. Where do you score the highest? (

Author: E.M. Murphy

A voracious writer, lifetime learner and eternal seeker who aims to open minds and hearts. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a NASM Certified Behavior Change Specialist, humanity and humor is at the heart of my writing, reminding us that the key to success will always start with a genuine concern for others while making sure to be true to our authentic selves.

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