A Crisis of Wisdom

“It is not the same to speak of bulls as it is to be in a bull ring” – Spanish Proverb

Use to be that when you started working at some company or even a small business, regardless of what your schooling was, you started near the bottom or as an assistant of some sort. Only after you were there long enough, did you begin to get more and more responsibility. Only after you had shown that you had gained enough experience at your present position and competence, were you given a promotion. Experience was quite often valued as highly as education and in some areas higher.

It is said the wisdom is what you get from experience and experience is what you get from surviving your mistakes. It wasn’t that long ago the nearly everyone, except the very well off, got some life experience outside their little circle they grew up in. Few went to private schools – public school was the norm. Nearly everyone was required to put in some time in the military – which meant spending time in some foreign country. All of this required that one have contact with people from varying backgrounds. Life itself gave you experience. No organized activities when you were young. You had to make your own fun and amusement. Technology was not nearly the plug-and-play as it is today. If you wanted to fool with radios and stereos and cars and even TV, you eventually had to learn something about them.

Flying was too expensive for most people and families, so vacations and travel meant driving or sometimes going by train. You got to see more and experience more. And with luck all this experience gave you some insight and eventually wisdom. But not from doing it correctly, but from making mistakes. From missing your train or taking the wrong turn or getting into a fight at school or striking out at sand lot baseball or watching the smoke come out of that stereo kit you just put together or have the engine in your souped up Chevy throw a rod .

Nearly all this has changed though. Programmed organized activities, private schools, gated communities, specialized higher education and going right from school into their dream job, pug and play technology that is thrown away wen it out lives it’s usefulness. More and more people living their lives in a bubble and having little experience outside this bubble. All designed to minimize failure and mistakes. And this I believe is a mistake. I remember hearing a comedian that came up through vaudeville lament that the comedians of today don’t have anyplace where they can be bad.

What we have now in government and business are people with limited life experience and there for little wisdom. How can you expect anyone like that to have any connection or alliance with those outside their limited experience ? To be able to relate to anyone who is not from the same socio- economic or experiential sphere ? To know anything about the company they manage if they had not worked there before ? Who can know what’s like to be near the bottom when they spent all their lives at the top ?

The problem we have is one not just of political and philosophical differences, but one of lack of wisdom and experience and breadth of life. One of narro-minded people who have lead narrow lives.

“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”
– Tom Bodett

“Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish… Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.” – Hermann Hesse


6 thoughts on “A Crisis of Wisdom

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