We are the most technologically advanced civilization in history, but all this knowledge has not improved our lives in any meaningful way. Sure, we have more luxury and leisure, but we are no happier than our ignorant ancestors who simply sought after things like the meaning of life or what our purpose on the planet is. Unfortunately, these “big questions” are rarely even asked by most. We are lacking something in this “civil” society. We are a society without wisdom.
Regardless of your moral genesis, political affiliation, or religious dogma, all of us feel that the world is lacking “common sense.” But what they mean is that we are failing in the application of all the information and knowledge available to us. We are like living trivia machines, full of facts, yet no idea of how those facts are relevant to our day to day lives.
My fellow university students quote long passages from Karl Marx. They can identify the flaws of capitalism and the inevitable inequality produced when people are paid based on merit, rather than the sheer fact that they are human. However, when ideologues attempt to apply Marxism, it fails. That is simply because the utopian Communist ideal society is impractical. A wise man would take human nature, and history, into account. A wise man applies the ethos that man is flawed, thus to believe that man, himself, can possibly give up all potential possessions for the good of the whole without force is naiveté to the millionth degree.
Putting your trust in a politician, like Obama or Trump is completely unwise. History shows us that political corruption is the rule, not the exception—no matter how few exceptions we try to name. Philosophers are flawed. Our “news” media is flawed. Those who we love to quote—Marx, Jefferson, Franklin, Nietzsche, Plato, Socrates—are all men who are flawed.
Yet some of them were wise.
I believe that our Founding Fathers were wise to the inevitability of corruption, which is why the US Constitution is one of the only documents that seeks to limit the power of our leaders. I believe that philosophers can be wise, so long as they are seeking answers to the big questions.
I also believe that The Bible, whether you believe it is the Word of God or not, is a document full of wisdom. Not killing, stealing, coveting the possession of others, honoring your parents, and not sleeping around on your spouse are “common sense” principles that are almost universal throughout global cultures.
A wise man seeks wisdom from others. We must be prudent in our sources, and be unafraid to ask the big questions. Personally, The Bible and the Founding Fathers have been instrumental in my own acquisition of answers. I have found satisfactory reasons for my meaningful existence. I have tested the answers again and again, and I still find myself returning to those same sources.
I have found a satisfaction with my life that few others that I know actually enjoys. Every action that I make has eternal consequences. My legacy may live on for a generation or two through my children, but my decisions have repercussions that will last longer than the Earth as we know it.
Some may say it is foolish to prattle on about such fantasies, but I believe it to be Truth.
A wise man seeks knowledge from many sources, but discerns what knowledge is good and true through sound study—and dismisses the other as falsehood. A wise man tests Truth by filtering all information through his world view, rather than trying to piece together a world view with scraps of information. A wise man does not change the world to fit his view of it, but understands the world as it exists.
A wise man does not re-define centuries old concepts for the sake of placating the few. A wise man cannot dismiss history and science for the sake of making others feel good about themselves. A wise man takes his time to understand a situation before making any judgments about it.
This used to be “common sense,” which is no longer common or makes any sense.
A wise man recognizes that the world has been changed by those without wisdom.
A wise man understands the danger of wisdom in a world so lacking in it.