In this, my sixtieth year, I believe in wisdom. I believe in the wisdom which comes from life’s experiences and from wrestling with life’s difficulties. Wisdom cannot be bought or sold and it cannot be earned quickly. It cannot be found in a catalogue of college courses, and it has precious little to do with education or being rich or poor. I believe it has everything to do with facing the challenges of life and making the decision to refuse to be jealous over the accomplishments of others. The temptation in this material society to drown in self-pity or become embittered at life’s injustices is tremendous. I see the results of this battle in the faces of people all around me, people who value accomplishment and wealth over kindness and compassion and who dream of winning the lottery to bring them the good life over a life of hard work and integrity.
Wisdom can be honed when one sees the good in others and genuinely celebrates the personal victories of others, no matter how small, especially in a working environment which may be very competitive or in the confines of family. The most ordinary of lives is filled to the brim, daily, with small opportunities to celebrate the victories and good fortune of others. I believe these are simple steps on the road to wisdom and maturity.
Perhaps when we accept responsibility for our lives, there is wisdom in seeing that events which appear to bring us to our knees through no fault of our own, have no power over us when they are seen, eventually, as an opportunity to rise above disaster. There is wisdom in understanding that sometimes, life’s apparent misfortunes can be traced to decisions we ourselves have made much earlier.
Wisdom is not just something inborn for people of royalty like the great King Solomon; it is within the reach of every living man and woman. It is an uncommon characteristic in today’s society perhaps because our lives are full of easy material wealth and immediate pleasure and gratification. In ancient societies, old people were revered, respected and treasured because of their wisdom. They were the ones who held knowledge and understanding of the ways of the world because they themselves had traveled the hard road of life without convenience and ease. I believe that it is possible that our modern culture has somehow created a culture lacking in “wise ones” as the Native Americans called their elders bringing about a culture that, for the most part, neither respects or reveres it’s senior citizens.
Nevertheless, in a society which appears to idolize youth and values money and possessions, it is entirely possible that old-fashioned wisdom is a question by way of offering a note of hope: Is it not perhaps, wisdom which we glimpse in the decisions of Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, and it is possible his wisdom which sets him apart for this, the highest office in the land? Abraham Lincoln was one of our nation’s greatest presidents for it was with wisdom that he inspired and led this nation through the most difficult of times. It is my hope and that our next president will bring us through these times when wisdom and inspiration are so hard to find.
This I believe.