Everyday, it seems, I learn something new.
I read it in a book, see it on the internet or hear it from a friend. Some new piece of information lodges itself in my brain, thereby changing my thoughts and actions.
Everyday I’m surprised. I absolutely love to learn – and I seek out new information wherever I can.
But the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. I see my past self as an ignorant person holding beliefs that were either flawed or altogether incorrect. And it makes me wonder, what do I know today that, in truth, I simply don’t know?
How many beliefs do I hold that are wrong? How many thoughts did I have today that were based on misinformation? And how did this affect my actions?
If I consider the theory that my knowledge will always be flawed, broken, and at times startlingly wrong, is it wise to simply have no opinion at all?
Is it wisdom that drive a person to silence? Is accepting that you don’t have all the answers reason enough to withdraw completely?
my thought progression through time:
- I know everything and have strong opinions. (16-19 years old)
- I know nothing and withdraw from having any opinion. (19-22 years old)
- I realize I don’t have all the answers, yet I have opinions. These opinions are ever changing. (22 years old – present)
During my teenage years I thought I knew everything and that everyone else was wrong. Typical teenager, I suppose. I cringe at some of the things I used to hold as true.
As a young adult I realized that many of my beliefs were plain wrong. I also developed a strong analytical ability through much practice, which helped me look critically at my beliefs. This caused me to withdraw from holding any controversial opinions at all.
And now, I realize that nobody has all the answers. I have a certain level of experience in life and it has guided my thoughts and actions. But I recognize – and accept – that should evidence arise that contradicts my current held beliefs, I must change.
Wisdom is not exercising the chronic ability to say ‘I don’t know’.
I believe that: wisdom is the state in which you know what you know, and believe it. Debate it. Challenge it. But the wise is willing to discard these beliefs at a moment’s notice should solid evidence of the contrary arise.
Now the question is, is it wise for me to have a belief about wisdom?
I guess over time we’ll see…