You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean
are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. Mahatma Gandhi
In spite of our diversity and uniqueness, at this time of year I am reminded how truly similar we are in shared experience. Whether we celebrate the upcoming holidays as a religious practice or a faith-filled belief that goodness and mercy are worthwhile, we recognize this time with a shared ‘sacredness.’ Generosity and good cheer prevail over the stress of purchasing just the right gift for that special person.
One of the great puzzles of living is to find our ‘right’ way among the many extreme dualities confronting us every day —
• peace versus war
• fulfillment versus survival
• optimism versus pessimism
• individuality versus conformity
• transparency versus secrecy
• diversity versus uniformity
• connection versus alienation
• collaboration versus dominance
Only through personally experiencing the dualities surrounding us do we gain the insight necessary, individually and collectively, to turn information and knowledge into wisdom.
Simply put, we take in information through our physical senses. It mixes with all that has formed us up to that point, eventually emerging as our ‘body of knowledge.’ We now have know-how and may be smarter, but we are not wiser.
Wisdom comes when we take our knowledge and combine it with our personal experience of life. In other words, we take what we know and add value to the world around us by contributing in some meaningful way. Two concrete examples come to mind. Adolph Hitler certainly was knowledgeable about social and political dynamics but he unwisely chose world domination. Mahatma Gandhi’s wisdom (peaceful resistance) in these same arenas of social and political dynamics enabled India’s freedom from British rule.
The poem below depicts yet another wisdom story of daily challenge we confront —
The Paradox of Value
A drop of water on my fingertip
reflects back the paradox of Life.
So precious its liquid sustenance,
that we perish quickly without.
Why then, is a diamond valued higher?
My ideal bubble bursts.
Can I create an existence, a world,
where value is measured by its
life giving, life sustaining worth?
Formidable hurdles block a utopian vision.
But like water’s fluid flow, I effortlessly
join the many into an ocean
large enough to tip the scales of injustice.
How are you creating wisdom (meaningful contribution in the world) from your knowledge? What one wise step can you take during the holiday season to bring you closer to adding your value to the world?