A Word to the Wise

Ahhh!  Youth is wasted on the wrong people!

It is my favorite line from the vintage movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” a Christmas favorite from decades back.  The old guy stands on the porch, newspaper in hand, as he waits for George to kiss his young sweetheart, Mary.  When George fails to seize the moment, the nosy old man blurts out the words in disgust.

I’m beginning to think that the problem is actually just the opposite.  I’d like to propose a new maxim, with only one word substituted in the original.

Wisdom is wasted on the wrong people.

I want to know why we can’t be young and wise, instead of old and wise.  Why does it take a lifetime to gain wisdom, when we could really use a good dose of it much earlier in life?

Recently, a friend of mine described these little articles I write as wisdom pieces.  I’m not sure her description is correct, but if it is, the wisdom has come a little late to do me much good.  Most of what you might call wisdom coming from my words has been gathered through wrong decisions and lessons learned the hard way.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about knowledge.  There is knowledge enough for all who will accept it and much of it is offered and absorbed by folks of all ages.  Wisdom however, takes knowledge and applies it in a way that is beneficial and insightful.

My lament is that wisdom is not often evident in youth.  I say not often, not to be taken as never. There are certainly exceptions.  You know some, as do I.  Sadly, there are not enough who seek wisdom; most seek only action.  That’s why I say that wisdom is wasted on the wrong people.  We who are older are not often people of commotion as our younger friends are.  We’ve started to sit and think a lot more than we go and do. 

 It’s not that wisdom was not extended to us when we were younger; our elders offered it in volumes since the day we were old enough to understand the words.  We just wouldn’t listen.  Believing that our circumstances were different, our understanding clearer, we ignored most of the wise words spoken and ran pell-mell into a confused and disorderly future.

And as that sage of Old Testament fame, Solomon, tells us, there is nothing new under the sun.  Every subsequent youthful generation since mine has likewise spurned the wisdom offered it by those of us who have learned from our own mistakes.  I wish it were not so.

I wonder often where Solomon acquired the kernel of wisdom that prodded him to ask for wisdom when he was given the opportunity.  Imagine!  A young man who valued wisdom above all else.  What a novelty!

Does it seem that I am working hard to insult my younger readers?  I’m not. This is merely a reminder to all of us that we have taken our turn in those foolish years when we deemed ourselves wise.  I would like those years back myself, but they will not come again. 

The source of all true wisdom is the one Source of all good things.  We want lesser things and strive to acquire them, stepping on anyone who gets in our way.  He wants to give us greater gifts and offers them to all, young and old.  James tells us that the wisdom from above is pure and peaceable, showing mercy.

We could all do with a dose of that kind of wisdom.  In this day of rudeness and belligerence, peaceable and merciful sounds like a refreshing change.

It’s a little late, but I think it may be time for me to join Solomon and seek for a bit of wisdom. 

There’s more than enough to go around.

Just a word to the wise… 

“The greater our knowledge increases, the more our ignorance unfolds.”
(John F Kennedy ~ American president ~ 1917-1963)

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”
(Proverbs 4:7 ~ KJV)

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© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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