A Denial of Wisdom [Part One of Two]
By Kathy Custren
We, all of us, are brought to a certain place and time for a reason. What that reason is, however, may vary from person to person based, in large part, on what we are meant to experience. Example: When the car I was driving hit a deer on the turnpike, “Here’s your deer…,” it felt as though a number of cosmic factors had come together. It was a pivotal moment; one that could have been much more disastrous and injurious than it turned out to be. It was a defining moment in many respects; whereas, prior to the accident we were members of the motoring elite, we have since made it through the ensuing years (going on four now) by using public transportation and the kindness of friends—along with the occasional taxi or car rental.
The point being that each of us—whether it be the death or birth of a loved one, some mysterious encounter, some life-altering accident, or some spiritual epiphany or awakening—manage to glean some bit of wisdom from the experience through which we move our life forward. Would a couple who have multiple children have a completely different skill set and toolbox of knowledge compared to those who have only one child…or no children at all? Of course. Just as those who make education and learning a lifelong habit have a much different experience and set of expectations than those who squeak through with a bare minimum—vastly different amounts of wisdom to be determined there.
But then, we may ask, what “is” wisdom? As might be gleaned from the family example mentioned earlier, it is being able to make the best use of knowledge and skills in our personal toolboxes. Let’s face it, we all carry a bit of knowledge, whether it be a large amount or a little. Most of us take some measure of pride in what we know, do we not?
Knowledge and Wisdom as Spirit?
Not very many years ago, less than a century for sure, it was remarkable to see a man or woman who managed to pass school an elementary level. On average, many had to quit school in order to help their families survive. That may have meant joining the armed forces, or grabbing somewhat menial factory jobs that needed to be done in order to put food on the table or pay for coal or oil to keep the house warm.
It is a general observation to note that as people had less formal education, they relied more on religious institutions to provide societal information, spiritual wisdom, and often physical sustenance in getting by. Compare that paradigm with our current one, in which we have larger numbers of people who have many more years of formal education and find less commonality with the trappings and directives of religion. Those who find personal information realize there is a variety of spirituality out there to be discovered; so the ‘family pew’ has given way to other spiritual pursuits.
As we have since learned the true value of education, many families push to keep children in school. With education, we realize it is the wise thing to do, in order to give them more than we had—all sorts of very useful knowledge that can be applied in the real world—nice concept, right? We have come, as a society, to the point where we have a plethora of very useful knowledge. Our technology is at the point where this knowledge is available, to an ever-growing number of us, at our fingertips. However, as we see from our current educational and employment situations, around the world, we still have major struggles, problems, and even critical issues related to how we apply the knowledge we have learned.
Generations ago, most of our important information was handed down orally, through filters of personal ability and time. History, before the written word, is nebulous at best—yet it is what entire societies knew as wisdom: the lessons learned over time. The use of text in later generations has added a sense of security that our important information is a bit more accurate and safely documented. Unless, as exemplified by the ancient library of Alexandria, that library is somehow destroyed. Destruction happens; and it behooves us to curate the best examples, the best stories, and the most useful wisdom from all that is accumulated.
Our ability to handle or utilize wisdom may be a trait inherent from birth. We hear of babies or young children described as “old souls,” who exhibit extraordinary traits of wisdom. They may be able to soothe themselves, or take their early knowledge and equate it to something much larger than themselves—often to the astonishment of adults who have a lifetime of knowledge and experience. Furthermore, we may, in current times, fail to equate the use of knowledge and wisdom as a spiritual gift; negating its importance in our lives and adding to our denial of it.
Applying Wisdom in Our Time
Not to dwell on the negative in our current time, but to a location, there is homelessness, poverty, lack of wholesome, nutritious food, a plethora of trash and other refuse, etc. We have a lot of baggage we are carrying around in both a physical and spiritual sense. It can be depressing to visit formerly thriving towns and see streets full of abandoned buildings or acres of abandoned cars left to rot. So yes, things in our ‘modern world’ are not as thriving as they ‘could be,’ based on prior experience. It’s a drag, man!
On the plus side, we can switch on our handheld devices and take a photo of the many oddities and problems that exist, then post a wistfully nostalgic update on Facebook, and get a bunch of ‘likes.’ *blink*
Or, we can visit a place of manufactured happiness and post a picture standing next to one of our favorite cartoon characters, also in an effort to forget the reality back home or elsewhere in the world.
‘All right,’ you may be wondering. ‘What does visiting a theme park have to do with wisdom?’
So glad you asked—and you are really going to enjoy the answer: nothing. Well, at least not directly, anyway.
There are those who will assert that we all need a break, or need to get away, explore various environments, gain some sort of ‘other experience,’ that will…what, exactly?...set us right?...help us regain our equilibrium or sense of balance?...recharge our batteries so we have the fortitude to return to our ‘regularly scheduled programming’ and continue the task at hand? *blink-blink*
Camping may not be everyone’s preferred way to escape. The grand wilderness has been set aside for conservation and preservation. If we all tried to visit the national parks, it might be the worst travel experience ever, so manufactured happiness it is…at least they have a working bathroom.
The conversation turns to nature because that is where families and individuals used to “be,” and learned to turn years ago, to recharge their internal batteries…whether it was for a more physical need to escape the grime and germs of city living, or to explore the natural world that had been paved over and reconstructed in the name of progress. Going on holiday, even for a ‘Sunday drive,’ meant a trip to the country, some distance away from the compiled fleshpots of humanity, where we could appreciate breathing cleaner air, bathe in cleaner water, enjoying the flora and fauna, and truly find means of escape by laying in a field of grass and imaginatively watching the clouds go by.
‘Okay, so what does nature have to do with wisdom,’ you may be wondering? Quick answer: everything. These were, and still are, ways for families to reconnect with the earth and each other; a type of grounding that enabled us to sort through our health and wellbeing, to relax, and return to the everyday with a bit of a clearer head and appreciably balanced heart.
But we are in denial of this gem of both knowledge and wisdom…big time…to our own peril. People who pay attention to curing illnesses are warning of the dangers of ‘electrosmog,’ or the various effects that electricity and wireless electrical devices has on the frequencies that our bodies use to maintain health. Just as we are learning, through science, about the way musical vibrations and frequencies affect the very water with which our bodies are composed. We read about concepts like ‘earthing,’ or of spiritual retreats in places with beautiful, natural surroundings that carry energetic positivity, where enlightened people and families are returning to nature, once again.
Denial of Nature Equals Denial of Wisdom
Another case in point—and this may have been mentioned before in other essays having to do with beauty—is our obsession with youth and looking young. There is nothing judgmentally “wrong” with people who have in their mind to pursue eternal youth. Perhaps, the quest to look young is something we all go through in various ways or at different times in our life, and the number of plastic surgeons we have today may attest to our desire of youth continuing to be fashionable.
We may want to consider that it is more than something fashionable that the ‘wisest’ among us—those entrusted to the roles of judges and lawmakers among us in the West—adorned white, powdered wigs as part of their garb in an effort to promote the appearance of wisdom in their courtrooms and legislative environments. More than putting on a show or image of being wise, there comes an element of trust with being the carrier of wisdom and authority.
In much the same way that Western society became aware of the ‘digital divide’ that existed when it came to education, the same may be said about the way ‘food deserts’ exist today within major parts of larger cities, or the way our economy and terror fears are now prohibitive factors in how many people are no longer able to travel to see other countries to visit different cultures, or get out into the country to appreciate our environment. Both may yield a surprise in many respects.
Might we come to realize, gain the added wisdom, that our world is only so big? Or, that our destruction of nature, from the loss of the rainforest to the annihilation of wildlife, has cause a greater environmental impact than has been reported? Or how trustworthy those reporting sources might even be?
It feels as though, if we could only put our heads together—and we do share knowledge well—that we might gain some larger understanding, if not wisdom, when it comes to our natural world and our place in it. Indigenous elders, if we really listen to them, have warned us that our generations will have to come to a choice. Their connection to all the old ways and nature add to the truth in what they advise—if we are wise enough to take those words to heart.
[Continued in Part Two]
About the Author
Kathy Custren is a mother of four, who strives for balance and has a deep respect for All. Interests include advocacy, the arts, communication, education, health, humanity's cosmic origins, nature, philosophy, spirituality and wellness. Visit her page "Consciousness Live" on Facebook, and her site at kathyc-mindblogger.blogspot.com.