Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Wisdom

by Troy Chapman

These are times that demand wisdom. Those who see this are trying to answer for themselves what wisdom is. One definition that I’ve seen is that “wisdom is that faculty that keeps you from getting into situations where you need it.” Funny, and true, but unfortunately not very helpful.

Perhaps more helpful is a distinction I make between wisdom and cleverness. Many people are clever in that they know the ways of the world and how to get things done. Politics, for example, is full of clever people. So is business. Yet they seem to function in an amoral world where everything is measured by whether it wins more power or money. Wisdom, it seems to me, has a moral and spiritual dimension. It’s about knowing and doing the right thing while still living in the real world.

As we face the situation in Iraq, the equally important struggle with terrorism, untold suffering and injustice here at home, a political system that’s inauthentic, and all the various consequences that ripple out from these things, we’re left with the question of how to keep our basic decency engaged and not fall into apathy or cynicism. Which is another way of saying: how to be wise, because that’s the essence of wisdom.

So this month we’ll explore this question. It’s one I struggle with constantly. Maybe you do too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Troy,

I will be interested to see where you go with this. Although I had not thought about it in this way before, working toward being wise has, in a way, become an important part of my life recently. I'm not sure if I can articulate it further at this point, but maybe as you post on this during the month, I'll be able to nail down what I'm thinking more accurately.

Rich Wilhelm