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What is this thing we call wisdom and how do we use it?

Growing up I was always aware that some people could be very intelligent but not wise at all. They could be ignorant yet have all sorts of letters behind their name, money in their bank accounts, and have all the trappings of a "successful" lifestyle. How is it possible to be so materially wealthy and so bankrupt of wisdom?

The answer lies within our society. We don't revere wisdom, we revere materialism. It seems that mediocrity is seen as fine, even strived for, as long as it's wrapped in gold. We speak about those we consider wise as though we are looking for Shangri-la or some mystical being who cannot survive in our world today. Wisdom is for the wise and, since our society does not embrace that sort of insight and knowledge...it has become the stuff of myth.

However, it is wisdom that may save us from ourselves. Those who know history, science, and the other "stuff of life," and have accumulated the insight and "good sense" to help guide our societies in order to keep our species alive are certainly needed now more than ever.

If we can pull the curtains back from all the "white noise" and ridiculousness that has accumulated in our culture and stop to look at what we're doing to ourselves, then perhaps...we will be able to cease our self-sabotaging behavior. But - the only way we can do that is if we are able to become wise. Which is not easy when we are fed the meaningless in order to fill the void left by our lack of wisdom. 

Wisdom is the pinnacle of mental fulfillment. It is the stuff of enlightenment in the truest sense of the word...to understand and be informed - really informed. If we can reach the stage of being wise, revere wisdom like we do "rock stars" and "reality show "celebrities," then maybe...just maybe, we will be able to survive and thrive as a species. Let's hope we will be guided by wisdom so that we don't collapse through our own ignorance.
Thomas F
6/10/2012 07:40:25 am

When I read the title of this blog, I automatically recalled Socrates' quote: "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."
You are right in that what society reveres is materialism. Even if we come to realize that it is a misguided concept, we are then faced with the problem of changing a mindset that has persisted for centuries. The only person that comes to mind at the moment when thinking of wisdom is the Dalai Lama. However, if I am asked to recall those who have material wealth and no wisdom at all, there’s: Trump, Limbaugh, Kanye West, Alec Baldwin, and the countless number of reality and rock stars we revere (as you have mentioned). It’s almost like wisdom and material wealth cannot co-exist in this world.

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Dan Goldberg
6/10/2012 11:44:19 am

Your point is well taken. It certainly is hard to find a wise person who has amassed material wealth. Perhaps Warren Buffet may be a person who is both wise and wealthy. However...in our society there are also some people who have a lesser form of material wealth and have the wisdom to realize its place. That may be the recognition that is required.

Perspective, lack of exploitation, love, and compassion, may enable a person of wealth (as defined in our society) to also be wise and enlightened. Let's hope so!

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