When looking at the world today, one gets the impression of living on a sick planet, with sick world leaders in an ailing democracy. It sometimes seems as if the planet has the flu, and no-one seems able to come up with a workable cure. Few will deny the fact that there is a terrifying lack of wisdom in the world. What happened to the profound knowledge of the great thinkers of the past?
Wisdom and solid cultural knowledge should play a prominent role in politics and society. The world as a whole could incredibly benefit a great deal from wise leaders and expert advisors, each with their own qualities, because if there’s one thing we need in order to judge and act in many living conditions, it’s (life) wisdom. Wisdom is one of the cardinal virtues in Christianity, and one of five forces (and also a paramita*) in Buddhism.
More than just knowledge
When we talk about wisdom, we mean more than just past knowledge. Wisdom, true wisdom, opens the heart for other people’s suffering. Generosity, giving oneself to others. Virtue, morality, correct behavior, letting go, transcendental** wisdom, insight. Energy, zeal, patience, tolerance, honesty, pursuit of truth, perseverance, kindness, love. Calmness, meekness. All of these belong to wisdom.
Thus, if we are deceived of wisdom, and when our leaders do not embody our collective wisdom, we are increasingly bereft of above qualities. And then we become cynical. We become insensitive. Apathetic. And we radiate that. When a dog gets maltreated, suffers from hunger, is suppressed or rewarded for aggression, a dog becomes aggressive, anxious, insecure. Each animal (or human) responds exactly the same way, but when you treat a dog lovingly and with respect, he will be a loyal, loving and happy friend.
We need wise leaders more than ever
What the earth looks like without wise leaders is visible around us. Extremism, terrorism, narcissism, dictators, rapists, pedophiles, killers; all forms and displays of ill behavior. Religious extremism, such as Islamic extremism, Jewish-, Christian-, Hindu-, or Buddhist extremism is appalling, but so is rightwing-, leftwing-, white- or black extremism. Women’s oppression is also unacceptable. We are all equal. One human race.
Unfortunately, also our modern democracy serves only economic goals, and not the community. Globalization seems merely a way for the rich and powerful to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and weak in our society.
What can we do?
Good examples of wise leaders include people such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. They not only benefited from their gained knowledge, but they also translated their wisdom into a great sense of compassion. But are these the exceptions, or can we play our own part in the creation of wise leaders?
Education, starting with adults and parents, should devote more time and attention to developing a higher consciousness where love is central, because life is simple, but humanity makes it too difficult.
People make mistakes, but hopefully we will learn. We enjoy, love, suffer, make choices, act and accept our actions when we are wise and mature, but there is never enough wisdom. It’s not just about our own interests, but also about those of our fellow human beings. When we get to know ourselves, we learn to accept ourselves and see the ever-changing truth as wisdom progresses. In spite of perceived setbacks, we can be happy, grateful and kind, and we are no longer plagued by unfulfilled desires, a bad conscience and a fear of death. Any time will do.
We cannot survive alone. People are social beings who need each other. People have the capacity for love within themselves, hate does not come naturally. When tomorrow’s future comes to greet us, the sun will rise more gloriously than ever before, and next generations will live in peace and prosperity.
“Our main task is to strive for virtue in our actions. Our inner balance and even our existence depends on it. Only virtuous action can make life beautiful and worthy.” (Albert Einstein)
Virtues and vices
Many holy books talk of seven main sins, but there are also seven virtues and I would like to share them here; There is much truth, love and wisdom in all holy books.
Seven main sins:
1) Superbia (Pride – Vanity)
2) Avaritia (Greed)
3) Luxuria (Unchastity – Lust)
4) Invidia (Envy – Jealousy)
5) Gula (Intemperance – Gluttony)
6) Ira (Anger – Wrath)
7) Acedia (Inertia – Laziness – Sloth)
1) Prudentia (Caution – Wisdom – Reason)
2) Iustitia (Justice – Righteousness)
3) Temperantia (Moderation – Self-control)
4) Fortitudo (Courage – Strength – Retention – Constancy – Focus)
5) Fides (Faith)
6) Spes (Hope)
7) Caritas (Love – Charity)
Wisdom is poetry that sings in the mind. (Kahlil Gibran)