Micah Redding — humanity, technology & the future

Wisdom

I need wisdom.

More than anything in my life, I need to be able to see my way forward, to evaluate the choices ahead of me. I've always been a consumer of knowledge, someone who couldn't leave well enough alone, who had to tease apart the inner workings of things. That process leaves me with a huge gap - the gap between what is and what could be. And that gap requires wisdom.

So I went searching for wisdom among ancient books, among the classics and the apocrypha and forgotten literature. But their wisdom can really only be seen once you've understood the experiences they were writing from.

I learned from my parents and grandparents. I challenged their thinking, and tested it against my own. I debated local preachers, and hung around old people, hoping to gain some scraps of their condensed life experience.

I'd heard the saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear". So I eagerly waited. This student was ready. But the teacher never showed up.

Where are you teacher? Why have you forsaken me?

The internet was coming into its own, and I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, so I eagerly took to obscure discussion groups and bizarre websites and anonymous chat rooms. I was bathed in new information. I had so much to study, so much to pick apart and put back together again.

But no one could provide me wisdom.

Churches have long positioned themselves as purveyors of wisdom. And if any one of them had been able to keep up with my slate of questions, I probably would have fallen under their spell. I wouldn't need answers - just the space to ask the things I wonder, and get feedback. But churches are quite busy targeting our culture's lowest common denominator, and rarely have space for the consideration of other thoughts.

It's probably just as well. This whole process taught me that I couldn't look to other people for answers - or even for context. It taught me that sometimes, people are wrong, even if they are experts in their field. It showed me that sometimes I have to go with what I see, even if everyone is saying something else.

And hey, maybe that's wisdom after all.

Reda:

The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge.

Ami Chopine:

Is understanding self and having joy at it. But then that means that as individuals in this universe, we need to love everyone. Love thy neighbor is wisdom. We are a point, and we affect all those points around us. Do we affect them for good, or bad? Do we complain about the lowest common denominator, or do we try to lift others up by the means they need? The Savior was beyond all of us in intelligence and knowledge, and he lived with and loved people and served those who (we must imagine) know far less than we do. If we leave people behind because we want to run faster, then we've missed the point. Just help others, be patient, and the rest will come.

micah:

Yep. :)

Timothy Chutes:

As a person without belief in a god, I can assure you wisdom comes without religion. But the traditional idea of "wisdom" is a very poor set of cognitive tools of analyzing existence, wrapped in nostalgia and confirmation biases. Perhaps what we should strive for is a mindfulness of how much we know and how in turn that informs us of how little we absolutely know. Wisdom makes claims to what reality it, something we will never know. Our brain processes 400 billion bytes of information every second, but we're only aware of 2,000 bytes. That's essentially 100% information loss. So even the extremely limited processing power of our minds, our consciousness only uses a microscopic amount of that to build what we think reality is. Maybe wisdom is a peace with that. All I know is, conventional wisdom is bunk.

micah:

I think most in the wisdom tradition, whether religious or not, end up saying "We can't know much". This is the upshot of the bible's wisdom books, like Ecclesiastes or Job. The wisdom offered is then to know what's important in the face of not having answers.