On Wisdom

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” Romans 1:22, The Holy Bible (KJV)

“You can educate a fool, but you cannot make him think” The Talmud, a collection of ancient Rabbinic writings forming the basis of religious authority in Judaism

Wisdom.  It is a quality sorely lacking in our leaders today. Money and power may give you the ability to gain knowledge, but it does not defer wisdom. Only experience – especially the experience of failure – can do that. Therefore, always be cautious of those that may appear intelligent; only their actions will reveal if they are truly wise.

I think that society today has forgotten the true source of wisdom. People fear failure because they fear looking like a fool. Who doesn’t feel a bit embarrassed if they trip and fall on their face (either figuratively or literally)? No one ever likes to fail. But what you do with your failure will reveal to the world whether you are a temporary fool, working your way towards wisdom, or a permanent fool, working your way towards nothing (or towards Congress, but I digress).

The greatest thing about this nation is that it was birthed out of a bunch of temporary fools. Our Founders were leaders that were outgunned, outmanned, outspent and pretty much outmatched. They came against the most powerful military in the world at the time and won. After the Revolutionary War, this new nation was almost $151 million dollars in debt (about $3 trillion in today’s money), but they managed to pay almost all of it off. They worked over a decade tweaking a new government, eventually writing the U.S. Constitution, which became the foundation of the freest country in the world, America. Would any of us have called them men of wisdom without the spyglass of time to give a clearer view of what they accomplished? Probably not.

Our Founders fought for the principle of freedom. An unfettered future no longer bound by the dictates of a distant monarch was worthy of the risk of failure. The wisdom of this nation has always been learned at the edge of a precipice of risk.  It is what makes us free. It is what makes us strong. Therefore, we need to decide if allowing our children (or adults) to avoid failure is teaching them independent wisdom or is teaching them dependent fear. Which do you think will better prepare them for the future? Remember, life does not come with a safety net – outcomes will sometimes be bad no matter how hard we try to protect ourselves. What you choose today to teach your children will either give them the strength to weather the storms of this life or to be overcome by them. They will learn to be wise, or they will learn to be fools. What legacy do you want to leave them?

It is time that we learn the difference between temporary fools and permanent fools. We cannot fear the former, but we must despise the latter. Temporary fools learn from their mistakes and gain wisdom. Permanent fools continue along their way, learning nothing, other than how to force their foolishness on others. The wise are able to listen, showing common sense, restraint, temperance, and respect, as they were once humbled by being a temporary fool themselves. Permanent fools are unable to listen, hiding their lack of wisdom with arrogance, intimidation, condescension, and fear. The wise unite and build up. The fools divide and tear down. The wise do not use force to lead others – but fools do.

So, as you listen to the ads, read the letters to the editor, and go to the town halls, investigate carefully those that wish to lead us. Choose wisely, or your vote will become nothing more than a fool’s errand.

“Common-sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), English poet, literary critic, philosopher and one of the founders of the Romantic Movement

“Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.” Albert Einstein (1879-1955) American physicist and winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics

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