Not all roads lead to home
Each of us have travelled by many roads through our lives. Somehow, someone convinced us that they will all ultimately lead us to Rome – if we’ll just keep going for long enough. That, of course, assumes we are trying to get to Rome in the first place, which I would venture is not always the case (there is an underlying innuendo here, which will become clearer later). Is it not that every one of us desires a true sense of belonging and so it is, in truth, a place called “home” (rather than Rome) that we seek? What if all roads do not lead us to that home? And what if that home is not temporal but eternal? We owe it to ourselves to be sure that the road we are on is heading in the right direction – the stakes are, after all, very high. I wouldn’t blame you for feeling a little lost in the maze of possible routes or for losing something along the way (be that your faith, your hope or your love). I doubt there is a soul alive that hasn’t felt that way at some point. Wisdomhub is all about giving you some signposts that will help you along your way and, equally importantly, help you discern those that are intended to mislead you (yes, they’re out there in force).
Important questions deserve more than an one-line answer
You’ve probably read enough to know that there are an abundance of trite one-line answers out there to the important questions in life. The clearest example I’ve yet seen: there are a number of billboards along the A1(M) / M1 between Newcastle and London that declare “God is dead”. That’s quite a big statement, if it’s true. When I first saw these, I wondered what had possessed someone to spend so much time, money and effort to convey this message. Was it a proverbial fist-shake at heaven for an abuse supposedly suffered at the hands of God (or someone claiming to represent him)? Was it an angry reaction to the annoyingly persistent testimony of believers that “God is alive”? Was it spawned by the outcomes of a recent scientific experiment that had searched the infinite dimensions of space-time and concluded without a doubt that God is, in fact, dead?
The point of Wisdomhub’s existence is thus to address these big questions – the questions you and I have all faced at some point in our lives, or will face at some time – but to do so with the respect and depth that they deserve (no trite one-liners or sub-cultural hand-off statements here). While personal experience is, of course, both relevant and important in such matters, it is neither definitive nor objective, so we need to add some facts and data into the mix to ensure we’re approaching these things correctly and give them the attention they deserve.
Assumptions and worldviews
Before we start, I have some important statements to make about what I assume to be true about life etc. Although not everyone will admit it, all of us have these assumptions or worldviews that we carry with us and they influence how we interpret the world around us. What’s important is that we state them up-front before we enter into a conversation and that we are open to having them challenged, to make sure they are actually defensible. The last thing I want to do is mislead you, so I’d like to come out up-front and tell you what my assumptions and worldview are:
(i) The truth is absolute and knowable
In a nutshell: A spade is a spade, no matter what anyone would like to call it. You can use it to dig, wherever you may be (in other words, it is not subject to Einstein’s theory of relativity). I’d go so far as to say that if a spade wasn’t consistently a spade, then we’d be in a whole lot of trouble because we’d have no baseline or anchor for anything in life. Let me explain by analogy: if the actual colour of traffic lights was put up for debate because a colour blind person (no disrespect intended) complained they could not tell them apart, then surely we’d all recognise this as a case of political correctness gone mad? Surely it’s just a case of misperception in the eyes of the beholder, but it hasn’t changed anything material about the actual colour of the lights? If that is so, then why do some insist that truth is relative and thus open to debate? If we’re honest, we’ll admit that the truth is absolute (as much as we may not like it), but our perception of it changes depending on a number of factors. In other words, we can talk about seeing the same thing from different angles, but it’s still the same “thing” we’re all looking at. How we perceive things – or the frame of reference through which we perceive them – thus plays a really important role in determining how we interpret life. Wisdomhub is committed to searching for and evaluating truth based on objective evidence and careful consideration of the facts – whilst still recognising the value and importance of subjective influences (and certainly challenging them when needed!). The main point I’d like to make here is that the truth is absolute and knowable – kind of like a spade.
(ii) Wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing
According to a good dictionary, wisdom is, “The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of such experience, knowledge, and good judgement.“ Another word for it is “understanding”. There is a difference between “wisdom/understanding” and “knowledge” and it’s really important that we get this before we embark on this journey. Let’s consider this for a minute: Going to university and equipping ourselves with knowledge through a degree or three is considered the appropriate route to become learned i.e. educated or knowledgeable and ultimately we equate this with being successful in life. Sadly, I’ve enough first hand experience of extremely smart people (both with and without degrees) who possess a wealth of knowledge but at the same time possess neither the ability to apply that knowledge for the good of others nor the ability to make morally astute judgements. In other words, they lack wisdom. Perhaps our handling of knowledge is symptomatic of the consumerist society we live in: I consume therefore I am. In other words, the more knowledge I have consumed, the more (important) I am. Wisdom, of course, teaches us that while we may have much knowledge, it is our application of it that needs to be correct in order for it to be valid. If we don’t respect the difference between wisdom and knowledge, we can very quickly get embroiled in an intellectual debate that boils down to a game of one-upmanship (i.e. “I know more than you because my internet connection is faster than yours” etc.). I’m very committed to avoiding such useless debates because they lead us nowhere. I’d rather we focus on the goal: growing in wisdom. This, by definition, requires a sense of humility and respect (towards others and the subject matter at hand).
(iii) In the absence of wisdom, truth can be dangerous
One of the first things we learn as we get older is that we are not as “perfect” as we thought we were at age 21. We learn that sometimes being right about the facts makes us wrong on the principal. Wisdom helps us to find a healthy perspective on the truth and not only that, but to effectively apply that truth to our lives. Wisdom helps us strike the right balance in morally challenging situations (e.g. the Israel-Palestine conflict). It helps us to know when to turn the other cheek and when to stand and fight. If the objective is to live a life based on truth, then wisdom is an essential companion because it acts as an interpreter for the truth. Leaving the truth in the hands of a foolish person (i.e. someone who lacks wisdom) is like giving a knife to a toddler. The consequences are unlikely to be be pretty and will result in a lot of pain, not least for the fool, but also for anyone that dares come near. There are so many clear examples in our world today of people that have discovered the truth but lack the wisdom to interpret it and as a result cause great harm. Sometimes, the truth can be summarised into a single sentence, or even just a few words. However, in order to give that sentence or those words context so that they convey the whole picture, might take a book’s worth of explaining. That is the role of wisdom.
So, putting these three thoughts together: the truth is absolute and knowable, but in order to explore it in a sensible way, we need wisdom. Wisdom is not the same as knowledge – it can’t be obtained through the accumulation of facts or even through experience. What then, is the way to discover wisdom? It must be sought, in as much as it is feely given, and to discover how that works, you’ll need to delve a little deeper into this site. Enjoy the journey.