The chaplain opened our daily meeting with a quote from E. O. Wilson. The quote stuck with me. “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.”
Surfing the internet, one can find the answer to every question. Whether the answer is accurate or not is something altogether different. Indeed we are drowning in information. Obtaining information is not wisdom. Wisdom is said to be applied knowledge. In other words, we ingest the knowledge, swirl it around a bit, and apply the knowledge to situations in our lives. Transforming knowledge into wisdom is a process, a journey, and oftentimes, a journey of self-discovery.
Psychology believes wisdom is the joining together of knowledge, experience, deep understanding, and tolerance for life’s uncertainties. Religion teaches wisdom is a gift from God given to those who seek it. Be careful what you ask for, however. Gaining wisdom comes with a price. Ask Job. Job gained knowledge through experiencing life’s uncertainties, and deepening his understanding as he pondered the knowledge gained while sitting on an ash heap scraping his boils.
If wisdom is applied knowledge, not all choose to apply knowledge to life’s situations. Wisdom dives deeper to look for possible motives driving the words and behaviors of others instead of judging others solely based on their behaviors. To gain wisdom we must experience life and put it in perspective, however, experience alone does not equal wisdom. Think about people you consider wise. Why do you consider them wise?
The wise of the world experience life as a rainbow, not simply as black and white. When we are young, we tend to view everything as black and white, good and bad. As we experience life and apply the knowledge gained, wisdom develops. We no longer see life as black and white, and that takes time.
I have a friend whose journey through marriage and divorce left him unbalanced and devastated. We have talked many times. Sorting through the ashes of our lives we sometimes need to reach out for other perspectives, for help to see the bigger picture. He fears emerging from the ashes jaded by the upheaval. I get it. To avoid becoming jaded we must understand we have choices, and choices have consequences. Navigating the murky waters of grief and loss, we question our part or we play the blame game. The blame game gets us nowhere. Questioning the part we played gives us insight, helps us better understand who we are. The goal is to apply what we learned about ourselves, and in the process, become better people. My friend, I am pleased to say, is on his way to a better understanding of himself and becoming an even better version of the person he is.
Wisdom is often born of pain. Job lost everything and then some, but in the process gained wisdom. I, too, have walked a painful road, and looked for the knowledge gained to apply elsewhere in life. I am still learning, and learning to apply what I learned. Walking the road of pain without looking for treasure within the pain is useless, time wasted.
Information is found on the internet. Futility is seeking information without applying the information in order to gain wisdom. We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom…..