Wisdom is a skill.
In our modern era, that values speed over taking time, and that values the new over the old, wisdom is viewed, not as a skill, but as something unattainable.
This intellectual and cultural state of affairs has not always been the case.
As a matter of fact, when information moved slower (although from an individual’s perception, information has always moved faster than comprehension) wisdom was valued both as a skill and as an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual state.
Getting wisdom is more than about getting knowledge (which we can get from Google) or about debating about the “owning” of facts (which we now battle over publicly) or even about truth claims (which continue to be divisive); getting wisdom is about having the skill to know when to talk, and when to listen.
Be slow to speak.
Be quick to listen.
Be mindful of the power of knowledge.
Be engaged with things that are difficult.
Be a source of memory.
Wisdom is a skill, and the massively existential struggle of modernity is the tension between accepting the immediately available knowledge of the now, and the seemingly obscure wisdom of the past.
In that tension, there are a few critical questions we have to answer:
- Do we ignore the past and barrel toward the future?
- Do we engage with the skill of attaining wisdom, or do we continue to chase knowledge?
- Do we search for meaning in our conflicts and communications, or do we channel our energy into forgetting, seeking closure, and “moving on”?
- Do we look to the wisdom of the past without a critical spirit based in destruction, pride, anger, and arrogance, or do we abandon the pursuit?
- Do we pass along the hard lessons to our current generations (sometimes in hard ways through hard conflicts) or do we allow them to sit in pretend ease?
The strategy is leveraging past wisdom to determine the answers to these questions.
And it’s not a strategy that we can outsource to our technological tools anytime soon.