Culture is everything that enriches us, makes us grow and offers us tools to better understand the world. Unfortunately, there are still many people who believe that being educated simply means accumulating information. They are the classic braggart with the air of "know-it-all" who enjoy ridiculing all those who have not read the great novelists, have not seen many films, attended many plays or have not visited as many countries as they do.
In these cases, the culture takes the form of arrogance and, in a general sense, contempt for all those who are not at the same "level".
Anton Chekhov's vision of what it means to be educated goes far beyond the accumulation of knowledge, it is an enriching and profound perspective that encourages us to reflect. The great Russian writer distinguishes an authentically cultured person from one who has acquired information convinced that it places him above others.
When he was still very young, Chekhov wrote to his brother Nikolai when he was 28 and was starting to be famous as a painter in the Russian capital. The letter dated 1886 is actually a series of advice for an incipient artist who complained that no one understood him. His first piece of advice is a mission statement: “People understand you perfectly. If you do not understand yourself, it is not their fault ”, wrote Chekhov with extreme clarity. But his letter continues and each sentence is a true pearl of wisdom.
How are the educated people?
- They respect the human personality, and therefore they are always courteous, kind, polite and ready to give to others. They don't mess with a hammer or losing a piece of rubber; if they live with someone they don't consider it a favor and, when they go away, they don't say: "Nobody can live with you." They tolerate noise and cold and dried meat and jokes and the presence of strangers in their home.
The cultured person is the one who respects others as individuals, he is a tolerant person who does not unload his faults on others but assumes his own responsibilities. They are flexible enough to accept different ways of thinking and acting than their own.
- They are sincere and they are afraid of lying like fire. They don't even lie in the little things. A lie is an insult to the listener and places it in a lower position in the eyes of the speaker. They don't pose, they behave on the street as they do at home, they don't brag in front of their humblest friends. They are not inclined to chatter and pour out their unsolicited confidences on others. Out of respect for the ears of others, they are more often silent than talking.
You learn more by listening than by speaking. A truly cultured person knows this and does not feel the need to continually exhibit his knowledge. Furthermore, he is smart enough to recognize what he does not know, and he does not lie to respect by avoiding projecting the image of an arrogant person.
- They have no superficial vanity. They don't care about such fake diamonds as getting to know celebrities, shaking hands with drunk P ... If they can make a few bucks they don't strut like they've racked up a hundred rubles, and don't brag that they can get into places where others can't. are allowed ... The real talented man always keeps himself in the dark in the crowd, as far away from advertising as possible ... Even Krylov said that an empty barrel echoes more than a full one.
Empty people have to make a lot of noise. Conversely, educated people don't need others to recognize them or flaunt their knowledge, slamming it in the face of others. Culture always goes hand in hand with humility.
- If they have talent, they respect it. They sacrifice everything else to it: women, wine, vanity… They are proud of their talent… They are also demanding.
Being cultured also means being aware of your talents and making a commitment to develop them. It means doing everything possible to grow as a person, even if it means making sacrifices and putting a lot of effort into it. We must remember that talent without perseverance does not bear fruit.
- They do not denigrate themselves to arouse compassion. They don't leverage other people's heartstrings so that they sigh and get a lot out of them. They don't say: "I have been misunderstood" or "I have become second-rate" because everything that tries to achieve a cheap effect is vulgar, stale, false ...
For Anton Chekhov, an educated person is also a person with dignity, who does not complain or cry over spilled milk. The educated person does not try to manipulate others by leveraging their misfortunes, he does not get stuck in problems but seeks solutions. He is also smart enough to take advantage of circumstances in his favor, instead of complaining just because the stars are not favorable.
- They develop an aesthetic feeling towards themselves. They do not ask for an intelligence that shows itself in continuous lie. If they are artists, they want freshness, elegance, humanity ...
Chekhov also related culture to intuition. This means that educated people do not fight lost battles in advance, because they are able to understand the human essence and do not ask others for more than they can give. Therefore, being cultured also means being pragmatic and objective, seeking authenticity, not only in ourselves but also in others.
- They have sympathy not only for beggars and cats. Their heart aches for what the eye does not see ...
An educated person is also a sensitive and empathetic person, not only in the face of injustices and pain that he encounters on his path, but in the face of everything that happens in the world. Chekhov could not conceive of a culture alien to human suffering and joy.
Finally, Anton Chekhov added: “So are educated people. To be well-read and not stay below the level of your neighbors, it is not enough to have read The Pickwick Circle and memorized a monologue from Faust. What you need is to work constantly, day and night, constantly read, study, want. Every hour is precious. Rest and get rid of your vanity ”.
Being educated is the only way to be free
There are many types of culture. Being educated is not limited to reading many books and accumulating academic knowledge. Understanding culture from a broader perspective will make us more tolerant and free people.
There is an intellectual and artistic culture, but also a physical culture that implies the care of our body, as well as an emotional and psychological culture that allows us to maintain a personal balance and a constructive attitude towards life.
There is also a professional culture, which not only implies being really good at our job, but also enjoying it. And there is also a culture of free time, which includes all those things we can do in our free time to grow as people and learn more about the world around us.
Cultivating ourselves on different fronts will allow us to live in a more balanced and enriching way, but it will also make us more independent, free and less manipulable people.