Thursday, September 13, 2012

Standing on the sidelines --- with wisdom!

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
    
It’s not quite the same as sitting in the gymnasium bleachers watching your grandson play basketball and seeing — before the children (3rd and 4th graders) — the appropriate moves, possible openings, or potential plays.  It requires little skill or wisdom to be a bleachers-sitter at a kids’ basketball game, true, but it was during one of the basketball games that it came to me: How wonderful — after a lifetime of education, knowledge, and experience — to stand (or sit!) on the sidelines with wisdom.
    
It’s true that “wisdom” is hard to define.  One online dictionary defined it as “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.”  The problem with the definition is simply that it is difficult to really know that you or anyone else has wisdom.  And even more difficult, when you compare people who have “wisdom,” you wonder who possesses the divine intelligence to render truth and correctness — if it exists or is even important?
    
If there was ever a better defense of or justification for a complete formal education, a lifetime program of reading, keeping up with and understanding what is going on in the world, I claim this is it: being able to stand on the sidelines with wisdom.  Some examples here might show you what I mean.
    
Individually, I look at all the decisions we are faced with whether it is how to invest, save, or prepare for retirement, decide on where to travel, for how long, and when, or simply methods for doing various household, automobile, or technological repairs.  It is a little like knowing that you have enough tools available to deal with all that life delivers.  

Knowing that you have “wisdom” — done everything in life that you could to develop it — helps by giving me the belief in myself, trust in my abilities, confidence and self-assurance, and even the courage and boldness to take action based on what I know.  Standing on the sidelines of myself — as a meta-observer of my own life! — the judgment about whether a decision was “wise” or not is a regular, ongoing assessment.  I consider part of the daily entertainment fest that keeps me interested in living.
    
Within the family, at the most immediate level for some, “wisdom” is delightful (at least most of the time) to stand on the sidelines and observe the way in which your children are running their lives or raising their children.  I am not talking about interfering — just observing — however, it is especially gratifying to be asked (occasionally!) for advice and being able to gently give it.  It is as if your “wisdom” is being recognized and even, perhaps, appreciated.  It isn’t necessary, just nice.
    
At the community level, having “wisdom” helps, too.  You watch your community, for example, producing zoning decisions (making huge apartment and condo projects possible), allowing various enterprises (casinos) to build, or countries (China) to enter the local business community, and you analyze the thinking, assess the decisions, re-evaluate the solutions, and your “wisdom” sets in motion a whole different point of view, paves the way for a contrary perspective, and opens the door to new ways of thinking.
    
You may think, at this point, that situations like this would be frustrating — thinking but not being able to act, but you’re wrong.  It is being resolved to stand on the sidelines.  You have had your time in the limelight; you have earned your stripes (your “wisdom”); and you have formally agreed (with yourself if not with others) that you are retired!  It is the same determination you used to lay the groundwork for “wisdom,” the same tenacity necessary to forge a career, and the same persistence needed to establish your resume and stock a life full of acceptable accomplishments and achievements.
    
One of my most enjoyable experiences is watching politics take place and unfold on a national level.  Talk about standing of the sidelines with wisdom!  Seeing some of the wasteful proposals, the silly and extravagant grandstanding, the incredible waste of taxpayer time and money is beyond comprehension.  You could say, “But, I’m not interested in politics.”  And, as a citizen, you should be ashamed.  Not only does it affect each of us on a daily basis, but it dominates the news, absorbs a great deal of our money, offers unending amusement and entertainment, and plays out as a picture much bigger than the largest IMAX screen.
    
The characters at play in the national political theater are often as evil as lago, the villain in Shakespeare’s “Othello,” as funny as John Belushi as Bluto in “Animal House,” or as hilarious as Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo and Chico Marx in the 1933 classic “Duck Soup.”
    
There is no end to the application of “wisdom” for, as I have noted, it governs every decision made on a daily basis as well as has influence on all perceptions on all things that impinge on our lives.   You never need to wonder why education, experience, and knowledge is so important.  It is through our education, experience, and knowledge that we learn “how — how to think, how to learn what we need to learn, how to accomplish, how to connect, how to meditate, how to contemplate and how to love: to get, feel and keep love,” as it says at the web site,  Surrenderworks.com, in the essay, “Applying the Wisdom Process to Learning the Wisdom Process.”
    
It isn’t just the learning itself, it is the stimulus we get from education, experience, and knowledge to go beyond, to extend ourselves, to keep learning and then some.  That is precisely what it’s all about.  Those who say, once they have graduated from college, “I’m finished with reading,” or “I’m all done with learning now, and I can get on with my life.”  This is anathema to everything education stands for or represents — anathema to the purpose (stated or unstated) of what everyone should gain from education.  
    
“Wisdom” does not guarantee that you won’t make errors or have failures; “wisdom” guarantees nothing!  But, what it does is provide the mettle — strength of character, moral fiber, determined resolve, and courageousness — that adds character, fortitude, and spirit to the personality.  It’s a little like the answer to the question, “Why do you do body-building exercises?”  The answer is clear: It adds tone to the body.  “Wisdom” adds tone to the personality, color to viewpoints, flavor to decision-making, and quality to life.  Wisdom is what makes standing on the sidelines so insightful, worthwhile — and entertaining!  And, most important, standing on the sidelines with wisdom is what makes a life.
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At Surrenderworks.com, the essay, “Applying the Wisdom Process to Learning the Wisdom Process,” answers the question, “What is wisdom?”  It is immensely interesting and incredibly relevant.

At InFocus (at the Wellness Institute), Peter Robinson has a brief essay, “The Application of Wisdom,” that is short, practical, and to the point.   Robinson concludes the essay saying, “It’s the moment that we are able to embody the wisdom we have learned to such a great degree that we can explain it in our own terms, our own way, our own metaphors. We are no longer parroting, or imitating what we’ve been taught. We have become the lesson.”
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Copyright September, 2012, by And Then Some Publishing L.L.C.

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