What has become of wisdom?

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A Box of Soap
By DON VOWELL

Each day I expect to answer the bell and find wisdom on my doorstep, ready to move in.  With age was supposed to come wisdom.  Age has found me and is comfortably settled in but wisdom is somewhere delayed.

“Many persons might have attained to wisdom had they not assumed they had already possessed it”-—Seneca.

Our Bartlett’s book of quotations shows signs of much use.  I turn to it when wondering what actual wise people have to say about just about everything.  For a person too shiftless to read the great thinkers it’s the next best thing.  The notable thing about the best wisdom quotes is that none of them are contemporary.  Wisdom is not trending right now.

“There is danger that if the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the Constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.”—Robert H. Jackson.

The Supreme Court should have the best and wisest legal minds in America.  They have decided that corporations are persons and money is speech.  See if you can find any “practical wisdom” in that. A strong majority of Americans believe it unwise.  Even if you give them the benefit of the doubt to assume that the narrow majority came to this decision strictly on the basis of constitutional law, it is wrong.  “The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.” —Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

Last night on PBS Joseph Stiglitz described the floor of the House of Representatives as a bordello for lobbyists and PACs.  That’s funny and sad.  Any laws that do pass through this constipated Congress have big money as the principal softener.  The Supreme Court is aiding and abetting.

“In seeking wisdom thou art wise; in imagining that thou hast attained it—thou art a fool.”—Lord Chesterfield.

Republican state house nominee Bill Post publicly avowed disgust that took his breath away for District 25 voters, then added that these worthless lazy Americans get what they deserve.  We surely got what we deserved: Bill Post as Republican candidate in a Republican-leaning district.  My ballot had twelve boxes to fill, all of them candidates running unopposed. Voters registered as Unaffiliated or Democrat were left little to vote on.  That could explain some of the low turnout. The 12candidates on my ballot may have felt better about themselves had I added my vote, but I didn’t mail it in.  As it happens I am a little lazy and worthless, but Mr. Post doesn’t know me well enough to say so, and possibly shouldn’t have assumed he knew why the rest of us didn’t vote.

“Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.”— Theodore Rubin.

This is the most contemporary of the quotes cited, and rings truest for me.  The Seven Deadly Sins have been used in Christian teachings for centuries.  Pride is most often seen as the deadliest sin. The opposite of pride is humility.  Humility and kindness are an inseparable pair compelling you to put others before yourself.  If I am ever able to put this into practice I’ll be a success.

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing”—Socrates.

My progress at learning how little I know is progressing so nicely that I’ll soon be at Zen-level wisdom. I guess I’ll stop fretting and go back to looking at Facebook.  That should protect me from learning anything.

(Don Vowell lives in Keizer. He gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.)   

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