Common Theme: wisdom
1: “Non-violence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”
2: “I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back.”
3: “Know you not that a good man does nothing for appearance sake, but for the sake of having done right?”
4: “Wisdom is having things right in your life
and knowing why.”
William Edgar Stafford
5: “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”
Even though our footprint as the human race exists only mere seconds on the clock of the universe's timeline, we have grown to be a intelligent species - one that can think both critically and emotionally.
Wisdom is developed through experience and time. Its cultivation period is lengthy but ongoing. We never stop becoming wiser.
However wisdom is not knowledge. It is beyond sheer memory. Wisdom is the application of past experiences to new situations so that we might not make the same mistakes we once did.
A great teacher once said to me: "Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom is not putting a tomato in a fruit salad!"
In a similar light, it has been said that a good man does nothing for appearance sake, but for the sake of having done right. Wisdom teaches us to be more than skin deep, it teaches us about the layers below what we can see. The right course of action is no easy path to walk. It requires compromise and resilience. It isn't difficult to be tempted or lulled by easy choices, for the nature of man, and in fact the universe, is to seek out the path of least resistance.
Some say that wisdom comes from the mind and that humanity comes from the soul. Looking at our past certainly teaches us about the future, and by definition this is what makes us wise. However I believe wisdom extends beyond this notion, and that it does not exist purely in the mind.
Wisdom does not have to be logical. It's about understanding the emotions felt in a situation that moved us in such a way that we were compelled to change our old way of thinking, and to adopt a fresh perspective. Wisdom's legs is the soul, and we need its power to walk through the mud that life set in front of us sometimes.
Mahatma Gandhi once said: "Non-violence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain". Gandhi suggests that while violence may be the temporary answer to our problems, and indeed something we instinctively consider given the primal traits even modern human beings possess, it is not the choice of wise men and women.
While we share many similarities to animals, we have the powerful opportunity to be greater - to be a truly advanced species. Caving in to our own brutal tendencies that may have once served us well for survival in the wilderness, but it only enhances the notion that we have moved little from our origins. We can be more. We can bring the world to one that is beyond the sword. After all, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
Common Theme: freedom
1: “Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.”
George Gordon Byron
2: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Elective Affinities
3: “Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved
4: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”
5: “No Statue of Liberty ever greeted our arrival in this country...we did not, in fact, come to the United States at all. The United States came to us.”
The human race has come a lot way throughout history. We have overcome various life-threatening diseases, withstood natural disasters and made the world smaller. We've done many great things, although a trade-off is not hard to find. Compromises had to be made.
Freedom is a quality many of us take for granted - freedom of speech, freedom of dress and freedom of religion just to name a few. But for some, freedom does not exist. Not in their world. Luis Valdez once said: "No Statue of Liberty ever greeted our arrival in this country...we did not, in fact, come to the United States at all. The United States came to us".
And sometimes we have to question if freedom is all in our minds. Laws govern the community, yet some feel more or less free than others. We should wonder why that is. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said that "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free".
Freedom, in my opinion, is relative, like speed or weight - there's no single, definitive answer. We must endeavour to find our own sense of freedom and ultimately, happiness. After all, those who do not move, do not even notice their chains.
But what is a free world? What is freedom and how far does it reach? Our freedom, your freedom, my freedom - they may be vastly different things entirely. It's important we embrace individuality, and realise that a free world is once that accepts the differences between us. Differences may look to divide us, to segregate or categorise us, but let us use it to bring people together. Maybe that is true freedom.
We must strive to become a society that respects the values and beliefs of each person. My freedom can extend beyond horizon - it can be truly vast, but my freedom ends where yours begins and vice versa. Where our freedoms meet is where we must find common ground.
"Those who will not reason are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves" as George Gordon Byron once said. We can't let oppression and injustice define who we are.
Let us be the ruler of our own lives, not that of others. Let us find our individual sense of freedom and the common ground we share. Ultimately that is what makes us human.
All humans die, but few have lived.