If you look at the Merriam-Wester dictionary, you will find the word Wisdom defined as: “The ability to discern inner qualities and relationships.” Somehow, I have the feeling that there is more to Wisdom than described here, so I decided to make this concept the theme for this month’s meeting on Conscious Ageing.
The six participants were offered the opportunity to discuss in pairs what they understand by the term Wisdom, to make some notes, and then bring their ideas back to the group. And, here is some of the feedback which emerged!
As it materialised, there was a considerable amount of conformity in their findings. Wisdom, the participants concluded was found in a fair number of personal qualities. Such characteristics as having an open mind, being non-judgemental, having gratitude for what one has, accepting responsibility for one’s relationships, being a good listener, as well as possessing both humility and tolerance, were all part of the wisdom concept.
Participants felt that it is vital to have respect for the views of others. This respectfulness did not necessarily require agreement but demanded an openness and a tolerance for ideas differing from their own.
The lack of tolerance for views of others has become a critical part of the current political discourse. A semi-retired professor of Political Philosophy, Leonard Suransky, is offering our local University of the Third Age a course on the rise of Populism, a movement which is evident on both the left and on the right. These extreme views result from feelings of insecurity and a lack of respect for the ideas of the other.
Many political analysts view Donald Trump as the arch-Populist at this time. America is followed by many European countries for the emergence of Populist leaders, while in South Africa we have the Economic Freedom Front on the Left being led by Julius Malema and the extreme Right-wing Freedom Front Plus party at the other end of the spectrum.
Professor Robert Wright, who is a visiting professor of science and religion at Union Theological Seminary in New York, has teamed up with Tricycle Magazine to run an online course on Tribalism. The concepts of Tribalism and Populism have much in common, and Wright with his interest in Psychology, Buddhism and Politics is teaching his ideas of how to neutralise present extremism with an understanding of Evolutionary Psychology, Mindfulness and Meditation. The course has just started, and I recommend you have a look at it here: https://learn.tricycle.org/?utm_source=trikehdr&_ga=2.140385459.1430994263.1558263600-1994547164.1558263600
My personal belief is that Wisdom has a great deal in common with both Conscious Ageing and Sageing. Both of these world-views have been introduced into the lexicon of ideas during the past couple of decades. An era in which there has been a growing backlash against Ageism – the view which promotes the idea that the greater your chronological age, the more dependent you become on society. Another feature of Ageism is the belief that after a specific arbitrarily defined birth date, you are not capable of learning new material.
One of my motivations for running groups on Conscious Ageing is to encourage people that you can maintain your capacity to learn new ideas and new concepts until the day you die. To accept this outlook may well be considered part of Wisdom and encouraged me to share with the participants two new concepts I learned while surfing the internet this past weekend.
Mansplaining and Digital Dementia
Mansplaining defines the attitude of a male when he describes condescendingly to his female acquaintance, the meaning of a word, a statement or an idea. I believe this is a useful addition to my vocabulary and I am just waiting for an opportunity to say to a man, “You know; you are ‘mansplaining’ me, and I take offence to your attitude!”
Digital Dementia is a scary contemporary diagnosis for the situation when a child loses his capacity for emotional control, or whose cognitive abilities are prejudiced because of an overexposure to the screen or the different devices available in today’s environment. The increase in the number of children with both behavioural problems and learning disabilities is profound. Parents need to be educated in ways in which they can limit their children’s screen time, as a deterrent to having the developing brain’s neurone development of their growing offspring’s retarded. It is essential that children have plenty of physical activity for developing neurons to be adequately stimulated. Static time, staring at a screen should be limited, and the amount of time recommended will depend on the age and the needs of the child.
I believe that Sageing is an integral part of both Wisdom and Conscious Ageing. Sageing International www.sage-ing.org has grown from a seed planted by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in 2004. It promotes some concrete activities around creating a vibrant and flourishing senior lifestyle; as well as training leaders to connect with others through programs such as Wisdom Circles.
Let’s hear your ideas
Anybody who has read this article, reached the end, and has interest in further pursuing the concepts of Wisdom, Sageing, or Conscious Ageing can contact me through the comment section on my website, And; I look forward to hearing from you!