what is wisdom?

when i began writing this blog i realised i would have more questions than answers. the very awareness of the questions has changed my perception of ageing, and that of countless others who are no longer willing to live in the old paradigm. as i continue to write, i am aware of my use of the word ‘wisdom’. i assume we all know what that means. do we? here’s the dictionary definition and some synonyms.

“the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise.” (i really don’t like it when a word itself is used in its own definition!)

“sagacity, sageness, intelligence, understanding, insight, perception, perceptiveness, percipience, penetration, perspicuity, acuity, discernment, sense, good sense, common sense, shrewdness, astuteness, acumen, smartness, judiciousness, judgement, foresight, clear-sightedness, prudence, circumspection”



as i peruse these words it strikes me that we each might think of them differently...some of those differences may lie in political/social/racial/gender/economic issues. for instance, one might be regarded as having "foresight" by preparing a will and advance directives. or, one’s foresight might be reflected in a shrug of the shoulders, implying that the future will bring what it does regardless of preparation.

and "judgement"...now that’s a word that carries a lot of freight. are we, as elders, in a position to make judgements that have effects on others? every time we vote, we declare a judgement that we have made, based on what we think is our wisdom and our wishes for the future. with many countries so deeply divided, have we made wise judgements?

irrespective of one’s position, each of those words has a spiritual sense, a sense of gravitas and respect. these are qualities we have been told are inherent in older people. but are they? does one gain "acumen" or "discernment" simply by living into one’s sixth or seventh or eighth decade? do we acquire "common sense" or "prudence" by living by someone else’s rule book, following the advice to save and ‘make arrangements’?

how can we express our wisdom, our experience, our knowledge in a society that blames us for both creating the mess we’re in and for holding back those younger than we are? somehow, it seems to be all our fault. and truth is hard to find. in spite of the headlines, we are a minority. and, as other minorities have found, our age is not the problem, just as gender/skin colour/sexual preference/disability are not the problem.

ageism is the problem, just as sexism/racism/homophobia/ableism are the problem.

we can learn from other minorities, and their successes in the last few decades. we can bring our wisdom to bear on the creation of a new paradigm for we perennials, just as others have created new social norms.

we all have a long way to go in creating just societies...and we are on the path!