A friend asked me if I had wisdom. If I was wise. I didn’t have an answer. In fact, I wasn’t sure I knew what wisdom was or what the word wise meant. Did it mean the possession of great knowledge? Did it mean common sense? Did it mean the ability to make wise decisions? The question was asked of me more than two decades ago.
Do people have to be old to have wisdom? They’ve lived a long time and experienced many of the punches life can throw. They’ve seen what man can do to himself and his fellow man. They’ve seen what nature can do to itself and to man. They’ve seen beauty and wretchedness. They’ve known love. They’ve learned along the way and developed judgment.
But does wisdom have to be the province of the old? We’ve all met people who seem wise and mature beyond their years. A child described as a 40 year old in a 10 year old’s body. Or a young person described as having an “old soul.”
Perhaps having wisdom is like King Solomon. If you are considered wise, you may even be called “a Solomon.” What did he do?
In one account, known as the Judgment of Solomon, two women came before Solomon to resolve a quarrel over which was the true mother of a baby. When Solomon suggested they should divide the living child in two with a sword, one woman said she would rather give up the child than see it killed. Solomon then declared the woman who showed compassion to be the true mother, and gave the baby to her. (Source – en.wikipedia.org/wiki.Solomon)
In different religions of the world, wisdom may take on different contexts. That would be another discussion.
I recently read the novel As All My Fathers Were by James A. Misko. To me wisdom was one of the themes. The wisdom of an old rancher pitted against the “new” wisdom of younger, successful, and powerful ranchers. The wisdom of a matriarch and the stipulations in her will. The wisdom of a river trying to show, not tell.
Is wisdom what you believe or what you know? Is it what you have experienced or what you have deduced? Can it be taught? Am I ready to formulate an answer to my friend’s question?
I hope I have some wisdom, that I have a concept of the meaning. To me, being wise or displaying wisdom is having patience, empathy, tolerance, judgment, understanding, and the ability to reach sound decisions. It’s derived from experience, being sensitive, intuitive, and having the ability to put together information and reach conclusions of benefit to those involved. It’s conducting yourself responsibly and being of value to yourself and society. It’s derived from living, from education – formal and informal.
All I can say is I’m working on it. I realize how much I have to learn and how little, in the grand world order, I really know.
How do you view the meaning of wisdom?
Wisdom is hard to define but you know it when you see it, hear it, or live with it. Often, it takes time to know if it was wisdom or just a lucky choice. But if you can lay a path of good and lucky choices, you build the wisdom column until it is unassailable by your compatriots. Achieving old age can help too, because it allows you to look back at personal history and know what works for you, your family, your town, and your state and nation.
Jim – Thank you for broadening the conversation on wisdom to envelop towns, states, and nations. It would be good to see more use of wisdom by those in leadership roles. Not partisanship, aggression, corporate greed, ethnic purging, intolerance. Wisdom calls for a deeper layer of thought and reasoning, such as viewing the long-term ramifications of an action or decision. So happy you weighed in.
Thanks, Carol, for your wisdom and for your beautiful writing.
Cindy – Thank you for stopping by … and for your confidence in me.
I think having wisdom means to know you don’t know and you’ve much to learn from everyone and everything around. Thoughtful post.
Susan – I agree. Learning happens everyday. Sometimes the process is comfortable … and sometimes it isn’t. But, hopefully, our wisdom grows. I’m glad you stopped by.
Very thoughtful and shows the need for us to think more about wisdom than just knowledge and education being an answer for everything. Wisdom. … Knowledge plus deeper levels of understanding and the ability to speak, act to bring about the greater good?
Yes, wisdom to me is something deeper, more humanity based than just acquired knowledge. More empathetic, experiential, caring.