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The Companion Of Wisdom

“Life is tough, but it’s tougher when you’re stupid.” — John Wayne

It’s surprising hearing Wayne confirm this, from first hand experience, one might assume. Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Since knowing nothing and being stupid are pretty close to being equivalent, maybe Wayne had true wisdom, as a compensating virtue. The interesting notion is that knowing nothing and true wisdom can possibly co-exist. Sigmund Freud added to the critical perspective when he said, “What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.” You can take the word of no less authority than Freud and John Wayne. Stupidity, knowing nothing, feeble mindedness, and wisdom may inhabit the same soul. That’s likely why Woodrow Wilson advised, “We should not only use the brains we have, but all that we can borrow.”

“Wisdom” seems to be the key to figuring out how this works, since being stupid, being feeble minded, and knowing nothing are clear enough. Elbert Hubbard offered a clue when he said, “Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.” Sure, “damn fool” gets added to stupid, etc. but Hubbard hints at a way out of the denseness. Limit how often you are stupid, feeble minded, know nothing, and are generally being a damn fool. Yes, this kind of self control is tough but, as St. Augustine said, “Patience is the companion of wisdom.” The choice is between wisdom and stupidity; and although you can be a damn fool right away, wisdom may take a while. For that, you will need to be patient.

What do you do while you are being patient? Doug Larson suggested, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” There it is. Listen and learn. Wisdom will come in its own time, if you are patient and resist the temptation to be a damn fool.

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