I thought I was. I thought mankind was. I thought we were, as a civilization.
But are we really? Events of the last several months have brought this question to the forefront.
After all these years of progress, scientific advance and enlightenment, we are still grappling with things that are very fundamental. Our achievements and advancements are relative. The invention of paper, being able to fly to reach far off destinations (even the moon), and being able to hear and see each other even when separated by 1000s of miles may surely count as remarkable achievements but has all that made us smarter? And wiser, really truly wiser? Arguable at best.
Why then would a tiny little invisible thing cause so much havoc, uncertainty and turmoil? The situation has caused us to go to the very root of understanding our existence. As simple as that. Far from being a hobby, we are seriously considering growing crop in our backyard and become self-sufficient in food. The ultra-sophisticated global food chain that we took for granted and that provided us our food, has been brought to its knees. And we are trying to figure out how to feed ourselves and stay alive. What is more fundamental than that? The foremost experts in the fields of medicine, epidemiology, governance and policy don’t have answers for the unprecedented health crisis, and are making up rules as we go. So much for all the wisdom we have supposedly collected over time.
Added to this existential crisis is another one – our understanding and caring for each other. It appears after decades, perhaps centuries, we are still trying to figure out who we are, and why we need to support and care for each other. After centuries of tribes fighting other tribes, empires, civilizations and societies evolving, we haven’t matured as humankind, if we are still teaching ourselves how to treat one another with respect, dignity and compassion. This is wisdom ?
We have built institutions that have stood the test of time. They are there to provide structure, stability and support but these institutions are imperfect. Systems, processes put in place to establish a just society don’t seem to function to uphold principles as one would expect in a just society. There are absolute rights and wrongs but creative interpretations have introduced fudge factors. Is that wisdom ? There is still evil in the world, perpetrated by our fellow beings. Why ?
Capitalist corporations – crown jewels of humankind are trying to put on a brave front with their CEOs having to become philosophers but not being able to answer many profound questions.
Not to sound gloomy but in the overall scheme of things, do we really know much more than the earliest dwellers on the planet ?
Are we wise ? Really really wise ?
While we ponder that question, let us make the best of what we have been given. In the time we have available on the planet, do good, help others, show love. Be responsible, believe you were brought into this world for a purpose, have integrity. If it was to study, make a living, get married, bring offspring into this world, understand and fulfill these responsibilities; and/or if it is to build businesses, create and distribute wealth, whatever it is, do it with poise. Demonstrate leadership by example – practical and moral. Become stoic. Take one day at a time. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Pray. Meditate. Serve. Take a walk. Cook (and yes, grow crop, a backyard vegetable garden!). Read biographies (of polymaths like Da Vinci), history (such as Yuval Harari’s ‘Sapiens’) and the scriptures (even if you are a non-believer). Those folks in ancient times were pretty cool to have figured out a lot of stuff. Do your duty without seeking rewards (the Gita). Life ultimately may not really have a specific purpose other than to be (Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible). Stay curious, believe in miracles, admire and enjoy the wondrous world. Be bindass but try not to get too hung up about having to be always happy. Where there is happiness, there will be disappointment. Just like there is no success without failure.
As you go through the journey, have goals and strive for them, try to create positive impact on your near and dear, your family, your friends, your employees, society and the world at large. That’s all you can do. May be you will become wise!
Still searching for wisdom..