We are nearing the end of 2015—only three months more and it will be a new year. I wonder if you are like me and cringe as we consider that next year is going to be an election year. Already, our television tubes and airways are filled with election nonsense of name-calling and half-truths, or just plain falsehoods. One party is fielding seventeen candidates, most of whom seem to be running only to sell books or enhance their positions as pundits who will show up on so-called news shows.
As we watch all of this tomfoolery, the rest of the world staggers into deeper troubles. People are losing their lives, governments are being toppled, wars are being waged, and we know nothing about it. We will elect the President of the United States, a U.S. Senator, a member of the House of Representatives, our governor and members of our state legislatures based solely on unfounded emotion—not fact.
For example, did you know that wars are going on in Africa that will eventually have on impact on our economy, if not world peace? Did you know that native Alaskan villages are being swept away by the Bering Sea, probably due to climate change? Did you know that war is being waged in Burma between Buddhist and Muslim communities? What about the Baltic area? Do you know that NATO is operating in the Baltic States bordering Russia? Do you know that Russia apparently is setting up a pretense to invade Ukraine? Probably, some of this is news to you. It is news because we are ill informed, untaught, misled. To be a member of a democratic society everyone must be informed, know about the world, know about their nation and actively participate in local government. We are a sovereign people, but we cannot self-govern unless we know the truth. Remember, Christ instructed his followers that we will know the truth, and the truth shall set us free. Truth based on proven fact is what every citizen must search. Beyond seeking the truth, every one of us must find wisdom.
Wisdom is neither elusive nor is it knowledge. When I taught at an Indian school, now more than thirty years ago, the students continually amazed me. Knowledge-wise, they had little going for them. They had trouble with mathematics, with English grammar, and reading Classical literature. Many, I need to say, did master all of these subjects and became quite knowledgeable. However, the one attribute I noticed was wisdom. They had a natural wisdom about the world in which they inhabited. This understanding provided survivability in an environment in which I would have failed to survive. Their wisdom went beyond survivability. They displayed a wisdom of life, caring, and family.
The Wisdom Literature of the Scriptures is a guide we often overlook. Many think of the Wisdom Literature only as pithy sayings and often confuse it with “Poor Richard’s Almanac”. However, in Scripture, wisdom has a being, a personality, a gender and wisdom’s call is personal, demanding attention. It is a call we should heed all during the coming year. In the Book of Proverbs we read, “Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice. At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: ‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?’” In the apocryphal book, The Wisdom of Solomon, we read, “For wisdom is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.”
In other words, the wise avoid scoffing and love learning. More importantly wisdom itself is a gift, a divine gift in which we come to know the true nature of God. Wisdom comes from listening, or as Saint James said, from bridling one’s tongue. Wisdom comes from empathy—not only feeling sorry for another person’s plight but imagining walking in another person’s shoe or worse shoeless across a hostile land and in the face of bigotry. Wisdom comes from being aware of the little things of the world—Ships’ rudders, horses’ bridle the power of words. Wisdom comes from being attentive. Peter jumps up, when others are perplexed, and said what the others dare not think or even say. From an innate wisdom he said Jesus was the Messiah. Shattered in an instant the wisdom of recognizing the truth also comes from his mouth. Unwisely, Peter denies Jesus the right to be the prophetic Messiah when he chides Jesus for telling the truth. Let’s be fair and understand Jesus did not call Peter Satan. Instead, Jesus equates Peter’s reluctance to understand the messianic mission of Jesus. The wise are not confined by the comfortable or conventional. The wise know thinking only in the human construct is too human, too narrow, too much like the thoughts of Satan.
Therefore, words matter. Wisdom knows there is power in words. If we curse another person, that person is injured although we maintain words can never hurt us—only sticks and stones. The wise are “active listeners.” The wise avoid reactive responses in self-defense but instead listen to what another has observed. The wise avoid using tricks, emotional devices to gain an advantage, but instead works for the benefit of all. The wise seek qualified teachers, leaders, and advisors, not those who promise easy profit at the expense of others. Ultimately, Wisdom is patience and love.