Anton Chekhov's vision of what it means to be educated goes far beyond accumulating knowledge, it is a profound and enriching perspective that encourages us to reflect.
Culture is everything that enriches and cultivates us, offers us tools to better understand the world. Unfortunately, there are still many people who believe that being educated means accumulating knowledge. They are the typical “know-it-all” who scoff at those who haven't read the great novelists, haven't seen as many films or watched as many plays as they have, or haven't been able to visit as many countries.
In these cases, culture takes the form of arrogance, disdain 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 accumulating knowledge, it is a deep and enriching perspective that encourages us to reflect. The great Russian writer distinguishes a genuinely educated person, who has acquired knowledge, but thinks that it puts him above others.
When he was still very young, Chekhov wrote to his brother Nikolai when he was 28 years old and was beginning to gain fame as a painter in the Russian capital. The letter, dated in Moscow in 1886, is actually a series of tips for an incipient artist who claimed that no one understood him. His first piece of advice is a statement of intent: “People understand you perfectly well. If you don't understand each other, it's not their fault, ”wrote Chekhov with extreme lucidity. But his letter continues, and each sentence is an authentic pearl of wisdom.
Cultured and educated people must, in my opinion, satisfy the following conditions:
1. They respect the human personality and, for the same reason, they are always kind, gentle, polite and willing to give in to others. They don't line up for a hammer or a lost piece of Indian rubber. If you live with someone you do not consider favorable and leave you, do not say "no one could live with you". They forgive the noise and the dry and cold meat and the occurrences and the presence of strangers in their homes.
2. They have sympathy not only for beggars and cats. They are also heartbroken by what their eyes do not see. They get up at night to help […], to pay for the brothers' university and to buy clothes for their mother.
3. They respect the property of others and, in consequence, honor all their debts.
4. They are sincere and fear lying like fire. They don't even lie in little things. A lie is the same as insulting the listener and putting the speaker in a lower perspective. They do not appear: they behave on the street as at home and do not assume before their most humble acquaintances. They do not chatter and do not oblige the impertinent confidence of others. Out of respect for the ears of others, they are silent more often than they speak.
5. Do not feel underestimated for arousing compassion. Do not defect others' pity so that they will yolk and do something (or a lot) for you. They don’t say “I’m misunderstood” or “I’ve become second-rate” because that’s chasing a cheap effect, it’s vulgar, rogue, fake…
6. They have no superfluous vanity. They don't care about those fake diamonds known as celebrities, who shake hands with drunks or are recognized in taverns. If they earn a few cents, they do not strut as if they are worth hundreds of reais and do not boast that they can enter others are not admitted. […] The truly talented always remain in the shadows among the crowd, as far recognition as possible.
7. If you have a talent, respect it. They sacrifice rest, women, wine, vanity. They are proud of their talent. In addition, they are demanding.
8. Develop aesthetic intuition for you. They cannot go to sleep with their clothes on, see cracks in the walls full of insects, breathe a bad air, walk on the newly spit floor. They intend as much as possible to contain and ennoble the sexual instinct. What they want in a woman is not just a bedmate. They do not ask for intelligence that manifests itself in constant lying. They want, especially if they are artists, freshness, elegance, humanity, the ability to be a mother. They do not drink vodka at any time of the day and night, they do not smell the cupboards because they are not pigs and they know they are not. They drink only when they are free, time to time. Because they want mens sana in corpore sano.
There are many types of culture. Being cultured is not limited to reading many books and accumulating academic knowledge about the world. Understanding culture a broader perspective will make us more tolerant and free people.