By Sara Imutowana Yeta II
As a Medical Doctor (MD), Dr Chisela Chileshe, the Correctional Services Commissioner-General, is educated; therefore empowered with facts, truths, information, knowledge, theories, concepts, models, principles, and skills regarding the well being of patients, community and society.
He gained his knowledge and skills through books, research, and investigation into facts of health.
One could tell that Dr Chileshe is knowledgeable from his mastery of medical terms in Bemba when he used to feature on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation’s Chintobentobe programme, and people had high regard for him.
It is, however, wrong to assume that education is equivalent to wisdom.
Let me get to the bottom of what I mean here.
A few days ago, Dr Chileshe was quoted directing correctional services officers to block anyone not willing to support Lungu from campaigning in correction facilities. He also directed facilities under his command not to entertain those opposed to Lungu’s works from campaigning for support from their facilities.
He said this when Lungu handed over seventy houses to the correctional services in Monze. He was vociferous in his partisan praise of Lungu, putting at risk the role and integrity of the civil service.
Despite his medical knowledge and expertise, he lacks wisdom, which can usually be seen in the power of discernment or judgement regarding what is right or wrong, or in knowing what to say or not to say, or what to do or not do in a given situation. He failed to discern that, as a civil servant, he is expected to be politically neutral and to perform his duties in such a fashion that his political neutrality is not compromised.
Lack of wisdom, or the ability to think and apply his knowledge, has made Dr Chileshe a civil servant who engages in partisan politics. Despite the fact that he is educated, he cannot discern that civil servants must serve the government of the day without entangling themselves in such partisan politics.
His medical knowledge seems not to be enough to make him responsible and responsive to government’s policy of civil service neutrality, a reserve of wise people. Put simply, lack of wisdom has caused him to exhibit political partiality and to campaign for Lungu or against opposition parties or leaders.
He belongs to a cluster of educated fools bursting with book knowledge but lacking in common sense. If he were wise, there would be no way that he would have openly abused the position of Commissioner General for partisan political purposes.
Lack of wisdom made him speak out in the interests of Lungu; not of government or of the correction services.
As a civil servant, it takes wisdom to know that one’s own political leanings must not stand in the way of diligent service to one’s country. And it takes wisdom to understand that politicians have democratic legitimacy while civil servants do not.
In a nutshell, the primary difference between knowledge and wisdom is that wisdom involves the ability to make sound judgments or decisions about situations or subjects. On the other hand, having knowledge is to be acquainted or familiar with something just as Dr Chileshe is acquainted or familiar with medicine.
Therefore, it is possible for a person to be a Medical Doctor or to be knowledgeable, but not wise or able to determine which facts or utterances or behaviors are appropriate in certain situations.
He failed to apply his knowledge with discernment in order to act in a manner expected of a civil servant, a senior civil servant for that matter.
He also failed to think and act in such a way that common sense would prevail and that choices are made that are valuable and productive to oneself and society.
Dr Chileshe’s conduct quickens my conviction that perhaps knowledge is knowing what to say or what to do while wisdom is knowing when to say or when to do it.
We need civil servants who are not only educated or knowledgeable but wise as well.
Dr Chileshe is, therefore, a let-down to the educated population.
However, we cannot pick holes exclusively in his unprofessional conduct in Monze. He might just be a product of an education system that churns out knowledgeable graduates who are useful idiots because the education system does not teach graduates the values of life and openness to experience – only life does.
By Sara Imutowana Yeta II