Marilyn Writes

Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 year banking career, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, and other major industry publications. The American Bankers Association (ABA) published Barnewall’s Profitable Private Banking: the Complete Blueprint, in 1987. She taught private banking at Colorado University for the ABA and trained private bankers in Singapore.

Saturday, August 04, 2012


PART 1 of 4

By Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall
July 29, 2012

In October 1990, Alvin Toffler accurately pointed out in his book PowerShift, that ideals inherent to traditional wealth in the world as we have known it are changing. We have slowly moved through currency stages... from coin to currency to plastic to knowledge. Toffler correctly points out that today's new wealth is knowledge. And though Toffler was right, he did not sufficiently explain the difference between information and knowledge.

As Toffler said, though, without knowledge in today's status of economic change, one cannot maintain – let alone achieve – wealth. We live in a nation wherein the economy is based on information, technology and service – and the last two in that list are dependent on the first: Information.

Knowledge should not be confused with "information" – and that is what the nations of the world are doing… possibly on purpose. In our information age, never before has so much information been available to people by a simple click of something called a “mouse.” And people tend to think by soaking up information they have gained knowledge when, indeed, they have only gained information. Some very unscrupulous people realized this and began massive campaigns to distribute disinformation. It is the latest, most up-to-date methodology devised to exercise power over the masses. Disinform them, divert their attention from real problems by misinforming them about issues. Keep them focused on the wrong issues so they totally overlook the real problems (problems are bigger deals than issues because they represent the core from which all issues derive). It’s called Psychological Operations – or, Psy-Ops.

It is a subtle but mystical conundrum that in the midst of an economic base change rooted in technology and information, few really understand the value of the information they hold. Fewer still appear to know what to do to maximize the value of accessible information. Only when people apply information and understand whether it works or doesn’t work for the good of society or to achieve specific objectives (not good for society) does information become knowledge. Information requires experience to become knowledge. Until then, it is just information. Many people believe this is a major part of what is wrong with the Obama Administration… it has information experts that have no idea they must first test information and understand how it works before it becomes knowledge. My personal opinion is that this administration knows precisely what it is doing.

I, for example, am very knowledgeable about certain things… I spent my life gathering information and putting that information to work, testing those “certain things.” As a result, I have a lot of knowledge about banking, for one thing. On the other hand, I am a functional idiot when it comes to anything involving mechanics. I could digest all of the information in the world about how the transmission on a car works, but my inability to put that information to work precludes my ever having knowledge about motors and transmissions – and all things mechanical. I might even be able to give someone else directions on how to repair that transmission (based on the information I have in my head), but my inability to understand it, build it, and test it will forever preclude me from having knowledge about it.

Understanding what I just said is the beginning step each of us must take to understand the difference between information and knowledge. Is it important for you to know that fact? Only if finding the truth is important to you. That is the same process one uses to find truth… information to knowledge to wisdom. One does not find solutions to important questions with information; solutions require knowledge. Without knowledge, it is impossible to know which questions to ask when you come to a crossroads. “Should I go forward? Should I turn left? Should I turn right? Do I need to backup a bit and start over?” And, if you do not ask the right questions, you rarely get the right answers.

Part of the reason for the confusion enveloping our society today – and it is a worldwide problem, not just American – is the lack of understanding about the differences between information and knowledge. We went through this same phenomenon when we moved from an economy driven by agriculture to an economy driven by manufacturing. To people who had traveled by horse and buggy all their lives, the Model T Ford looked like a huge leap into the future. It was just the beginning. No one realized the many products that would emerge as we went through the 100 years (from 1860 to 1960) of the industrial/manufacturing economic cycle. We moved from the horse and buggy to jumbo jets during that time. As one new product was created from information, knowledge was gained and another new product resulted… and another, and another, as that process repeated itself over and over again. We are only halfway through our technology, information and service economic cycle… there is much yet to come – and we should all hope what comes is based on knowledge, not information.

And then, of course, there is step three: Turning knowledge into wisdom. Very few people achieve that objective… and even fewer public servants.

What is wisdom?

There are many words that define wisdom… but defining it and gaining it are two different things. Probably the most well rounded explanation is that wisdom desires goodness for the total of society. But there are provisions in that sentence. One must be able to define goodness, for example. Is it to give a man a fish? Or is it to teach the man to fish? Is it a combination of both – to give him a fish while making sure he learns to fish… to understand the weaker side of human nature sufficiently to know that if it is allowed, the man will let you give him a fish as long as you are willing, even if it means weakening him.

Wisdom is being able to logically define the end of a behavior pattern (like the man/give a fish/teach to fish dilemma) based on true empathy for others – which involves an awareness of our own self weaknesses (our egos which sometimes enjoy having others dependent upon us). To achieve that, we must have self awareness (which means we must investigate our own psyches). Few people do that willingly. It’s a painful process. Wisdom means caring enough about those things dear to you to accept responsibility for your successes and your failures in life. When people have the capacity to reflect on life and find within that reflection the serene, and realize the importance of integrity and ethics, they develop compassion. Without compassion, it is impossible for human beings to exhibit wisdom. But again, one must be careful how the word “compassion” is defined.

As I said, there are many words that define wisdom. The question is, how does one get from knowledge to wisdom? Moving from knowledge to wisdom is a bit like moving from information to knowledge… but it’s a far more personal journey that requires a person to question every opinion held, every decision made, analyze every hope, and be willing to risk failure when to not take that risk would be damaging to the whole. It’s part of the reason soldiers are willing to lay down their lives for their countries.

One then utilizes the above standards to evaluate those things in life about which one has gained knowledge. It’s a lengthy process and usually requires a lifetime to achieve it… which is why so many tribal peoples hold the aged in such great respect. Not all aged people are wise – and they know that – but they also know it is rare for youth to achieve wisdom. They may have great information and, over time, great knowledge… but it takes a lifetime of living to develop wisdom.

My point is this: Conservatives and liberals see things differently – usually diametrically opposite one another. Why is it that people can see God’s reasons for almost anything they find distasteful, but conservatives see no reason for liberals, and liberals (even more vitriolic towards conservatives) see no reason for conservatives. Each has an immense dislike for the philosophies of the other, seeing no sense in them whatsoever. Do you really believe God put both philosophies here with no good purpose?

The next four articles in this series will explain what each group believes and why the other group finds it harmful. It explains the cycles through which America (and all nations) goes and points to the reasons for them. Did you know that liberals rule for 50 years to be followed by 50 years of conservative dominance? Take a look at American history – which is what the next four articles will do – and you will understand the reason for the opposing beliefs which dominate America’s 50 year cycles.

Problems with this philosophy arise only when one group does not stand up for the standards associated with the two personality styles… liberal and conservative. And that’s where we find ourselves today. That is where the madness of today’s society has taken us… where liberals aren’t liberals, they are socialists/communists, and where conservatives aren’t conservative, they’re fascist one-worlders.

We need to get back to basics. Or, we need to do away with the two political parties we currently have and create two others where liberals dominate their party and conservatives dominate theirs. If we do not, we, as a nation, are lost.

You probably won’t enjoy or find amusing this series of articles. They aren’t easy reading… but they can explain a great deal (if you’re willing to listen).

© 2012 Marilyn M. Barnewall - All Rights Reserved

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Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career in 1956 as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 years (plus) as a banker and bank consultant, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, was U.S. Consulting Editor for Private Banker International (London/Dublin), and other major banking industry publications. She has written seven non-fiction books about banking and taught private banking at Colorado University for the American Bankers Association. She has authored seven banking books, one dog book, and two works of fiction (about banking, of course). She has served on numerous Boards in her community.

Barnewall is the former editor of The National Peace Officer Magazine and as a journalist has written guest editorials for the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Newsweek, among others. On the Internet, she has written for News With Views, World Net Daily, Canada Free Press, Christian Business Daily, Business Reform, and others. She has been quoted in Time, Forbes, Wall Street Journal and other national and international publications. She can be found in Who's Who in America, Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Finance and Business, and Who's Who in the World.

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