Rachel Wadham, senior librarian at the Harold B. Lee Library, delivered Tuesday's devotional address. She spoke about how vital it is to become more information literate, and how doing so will help us better navigate the world.
Wadham began by recounting a favorite childhood story, in which a judge sits at his bench as prisoners are brought in one by one and each testifying that a large beast is coming. Believing this to be impossible, the judge dismisses the warnings until one day the exact monster appears and “promptly eats him whole, which then allows all the prisoners to be set free.”
Had the judge been more information literate by asking questions and looking out the window, the judge's outcome would have been very different, Wadham observed.
“Throughout the story, the judge gets a lot of information, but it is clear that he does not have the critical ability to evaluate and effectively use the knowledge that he has,” Wadham said. “His failure was that he did not validate that information to make informed decisions”
Like the judge, we live in a world that bombards us with information coming from a plethora of different mediums, said Wadham. She stressed that being information literate helps us become like our Heavenly Father, who knows all things.
“One of my jobs as a librarian is to make sure that people know how to identify, use, create and evaluate all kinds of information,” Wadham explained.
Speaking from a lifetime spent learning how to navigate information, Wadham offered three values that will help us “cultivate godliness in mortality:” wisdom, curiosity and patience.
We often think of wisdom as the amount of intellectual knowledge we have, but Wadham taught that wisdom is much more than that.
“In my studies, I have found that wisdom goes well beyond the ability to store lots of information in your brain,” she said. “This understanding implies that wisdom is not just held but that it is applied in action through our skill."
Wisdom is gained by careful study of both spiritual and secular things and by taking the time to develop talents. Wadham emphasized that an important part of wisdom is staying close to the Lord, who will give knowledge and discernment through the gift of the Holy Ghost.
“The skills of wisdom including knowledge, experience, insight and inspiration all can help us to face the complexity of the world we now live in. These skills are crucial even more so because, given the conditions of mortality, we only have a fragmentary knowledge that is continually growing.”
Speaking fondly of her parents, Wadham expressed gratitude to her mother and father for helping to instill the value of curiosity in her. Her father spent time exploring everything from Hebrew rituals to oil painting, while her mother spent time reading magazines and studying history.
“This heritage of exploration was ingrained in me from birth, and I have always been grateful to have a sense of curiosity about the world.”
In a world that is growing continuously contentious, Wadham says it is common to find ourselves in situations in which we do not agree with others' experiences or truths they offer. She believes that natural curiosity can help us build bridges and understanding for others.
“Curiosity urges us to ask questions, to seek out a range of resources and perspectives to seek answers to those questions and to critically evaluate our experiences as we synthesize all information into a new understanding. These skills allow us to open our thoughts and experiences to new ways of thinking.”
Patience is a virtue that is needed to help cultivate the other two, Wadham taught. Patience can give us the strength to face our trials and to trust in the Lord's timing for our lives.
“Patience then has a lot to do with how we interact with one another. It allows us to work together without anger, envy or pride. It allows us to be more like our Savior, who was our greatest exemplar of gentle, calm, peaceful loving patience.”
Wadham added that patience is also important for learning and becoming more information literate, as we often have to wait patiently to receive answers or make sense of certain topics.
“This kind of patience allows us to understand that not all answers are forthcoming or easily accessible. We must work diligently but also allow ourselves the time, space and patience to seek answers.”