When Qui-gon Jinn first meets Jar Jar Binks in the swamps of Naboo in The Phantom Menace, he has just saved him from being crushed by a large battle droid troop transport. Qui-gon, speaking out of what seems like impatience, asks the talkative Gungan, “Are you brainless?” Jar Jar responds by exclaiming, “I speak!” to which the Jedi Master replies, “The ability to speak does not make you intelligent."
While it appears that Qui-gon’s statement is simply a snarky put-down, there is actually a great deal of wisdom in his words that can apply to us all, especially in an age in which so many use social media to “speak” through Tweets, blogs, vlogs etc. Just because we have a platform doesn’t mean that what we’re communicating through it is true, correct, wise…or intelligent. Intelligence is defined as “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.” Knowledge is defined as “the collection of facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education.” Therefore, the basis of intelligence is experience, research, and learning. With that in mind, how often do we witness people speaking with authority on a subject in which they have little experience, have done little research and therefore have little education regarding the matter? If this is the case, then they’re not speaking from a place of authority; they’re speaking from a place of ignorance. Yet even if we are intelligent, it doesn’t mean that we’re right. Too often we are quick to speak, slow to listen, and so beholden to our own point of view that we fail to take the time to consider that of another.
While I’m not suggesting that no one should have opinions nor ever voice them, I am suggesting that we recognize that our opinions may be just that: opinions and not the absolute truth we may believe them to be simply because we spoke them from our mouths or posted them from our phones.
Is our goal to speak intelligently on matters of importance, or is it simply just to speak and expect everyone else to listen and agree?
“I speak!” the talkative Gungan declared.
“The ability to speak does not make you intelligent,” replied the Jedi Master.
Something to consider.