In one of those moments of sweet serendipity, I bumped into the same spiritual message twice in the same week, from two mightily different sources. The one was in an ad promoting Malcolm Gladwell’s upcoming appearance at the Meyerhoff sponsored by the Baltimore Downtown Partnership, and the other was on page 32 of Kenaf Renanim, the modern commentary by Hanokh Zundel Luria on the ancient book of Perek Shira, the song of nature.
Malcolm Gladwell, true to his pithiness, put it succinctly: “The key to good decision-making is not knowledge; it is understanding.”
Luria, true to his expansive style, put it in a paragraph. (I will summarize it for you.) Comparing Abraham and the Greek philosophers, Luria distinguishes between discovery that yields knowledge (speaking of the Hellenists) and discovery that yields belief (speaking of Abraham). The difference, he intimates, lies not in the body of facts but in the soul of the seeker.
Either way, we are reminded of an age-old conundrum that the purveyors of pedagogy struggle with to this day: knowing does not always lead to caring; facts do not always lead to action.
That is one reason why we may know one thing and do another. And why despite strong evidence, many Americans still question the reality of climate change and the need for reducing our energy consumption, converting to green energy, and otherwise tending well to the health of the earth.
Whole disciplines and centers of investigation now exist to help us bridge the gap between environmental knowledge and environmental behavior.
It all comes down to the human spirit. How do we awaken passions that lead to action? How do we “sell” people on sova, contented enoughness? How do we turn an economy-of-consumption into an economy-of-caring? How do we replace a focus on daily returns with a vision of a far horizon?
These are questions that Madison Avenue tends to know best. They are equipped to help open people’s hearts and fashion public attitudes. We need to tap into their genius and get the word out. The problem: Who is going to pay for such a campaign?