It’s easy to know if we are growing wiser as we grow older. Wisdom doesn’t come to us at a particular age. We definitely don’t need to have white hair. We don’t have to meditate or to have spent time in India. We don’t need to be a PhD college graduate. In fact, a PhD could actually interfere with the goal of becoming a wise person. We don’t even need to be literate or able to read.
Democracy Requires Us To Grow Wiser As We Grow Older
But there “is” one thing that we must learn to do that will, more than any other, prove we are becoming wiser as we grow older. And that is the ability to hold two opposing truths in our mind at the same time while continuing to function in the world without assuming one side or the other is absolute truth, or assuming the other side is wrong or some how represents absolute evil.
Black and white, either/or thinkers tend to assume they alone possess absolute truth. They include just enough “truth” in their arguments to make it appear that they, and they alone, are authorized to speak as an authority on the issue. Those who dare to challenge them are labeled as ignorant, evil, uninformed, dangerous, or operating out of a hidden and sinister agenda that will bring ruin and devastation into the world.
A wise person on the other hand has learned to embrace a contemplative consciousness; the ability to drop ego driven black and white, either/or thinking and intentionally search for wholeness and unity in all things; the ability to intentionally search for the truths found on both sides of every issue that will lead to the possibility of a compromise that benefits both sides of the issue.
We will know that we are growing wiser when we begin to vote for political, economic, and public service leaders that refuse to promote the use of partial truths and outright emotional distortions of the truth simply to advance their own ideological beliefs; beliefs that are too often driven by greed, or the desire for personal power.
We will know we are growing wiser when we know the simple truth that a democracy cannot function without compromise; that a democracy cannot survive when the gap between the haves and the have-nots becomes too extreme; that a democracy cannot survive unless the electorate is able to trust that those in elected positions of authority are there to protect the views and interests of all voters; that a democracy cannot survive unless the voters can trust that the “news” is not being “created” or “emotionally distorted” by the agencies reporting that news.
We will know we are growing wiser when we know a nation that tolerates the partial truths of extremist politicians, or politician’s that lie or intentionally distort the truth so-as-to protect or support their own political career, or their own political party, is a nation that is laying the shaky foundation of its own demise. We will know we are growing wiser when we know that it is a privilege to live in a free nation; that it is our responsibility to insure that the leadership of our nation is wise; and when we remember with humility that history is full of great nations and powerful empires that no longer exist.
We will know we are growing wiser when we find ourselves listening more than we speak; when we find ourselves rejecting extremist beliefs; and when we are willing to compromise for the good of all people; not just the few.
Ultimately, the final vote on whether we grew wiser as we grew older will not be decided by us. That decision will be made by history when our nation’s children and grandchildren get to vote. In the meantime, “we” will “know” we have grown wiser when we find ourselves quietly and intentionally making choices and decisions for our nation’s future; choices and decisions that will insure a positive outcome of that final vote by the future generations of our nation.
by Dick Rauscher©