Researching the definition of the word “wisdom” in a dictionary can prove to be tricky.  It is a complex word, described by many synonyms and related adjectives.  According to selfknowledge.com, to be wise is to have knowledge as well as the intelligence to aptly apply this knowledge.  When I think of wisdom, I automatically compare it to intelligence.  Wisdom and intelligence are related but different.  Anyone can gain intelligence through teachers and books but wisdom is gained through experience.  Wisdom is related to common sense and the ability to take what one knows in order to apply it in the best ways.

I can think of many people who were wise, but my late grandmother stands out.  In the short time I knew her, she was always giving away knowledge that she learned in a life of poverty and military service as a nurse.  She knew how to read faces, and taught me to trust my own instincts about people first and foremost.  In a sense, she was teaching me some simple “street smarts” – a form of wisdom.  At the same time, she was always willing to admit a fault of hers.  I think wise people are able to admit when they are wrong.

I don’t think I am very wise.  I feel that I am too young to be considered so.  I feel that I have a lot of book smarts, but I have yet to garner enough experience in order to develop much wisdom.   Then again, perhaps I am wise to admit that?

I think that wisdom can exhibit itself in anyone of any social status.  The intelligentsias of society are generally considered to be wise, and in many ways they are.  Sometimes, they are also absent-minded and more concerned with academic intelligence rather than worldly experience.  The warriors of a society should also have their own set of wisdom.  Warfare and its experiences will undoubtedly imprint certain lessons into a person that they will use later in life. The producers also need a type of wisdom – wisdom of the natural world to produce resources and to know when they’ve harvested enough; wisdom in regards to a skill and its purpose; and even some economical wisdom. These different types of wisdom are gained through experience.

I think the definition I found on an on-line dictionary and the definition given in the dedicant handbook match fairly well.  The dedicant handbook states that wisdom is “good judgment, the ability to perceive people and situations correctly, [to] deliberate about and decide the correct response”.  Good judgment is basically common sense, as is the ability to perceive people and situations.  The ability to deliberate about and decide what the correct response would be is a combination of common sense, the ability to apply knowledge, and experience.  They are both good definitions that, together, aptly describe what it means to be wise.

By Grey Catsidhe 2008

Published by M. A. Phillips

An author and Druid living in Northern NY.

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