Wisdom Hasn’t Made Me Smarter
January 8, 2009, by Carine Fabius
I’m 52, so by all rights I should be wise, right? I thought wisdom came with the growing old package, right alongside gracefully. But something got messed up on my order form, because it turns out the gracefully part is a day-to-day challenge that gets harder, not easier, as time goes by!
And, for some reason, I thought by now I would have figured out the answer to the question that’s been nagging at me for years. Are human beings violent by nature, or is our essence the stuff of love? In other words, if love (aka God) is what we are under this physical shell—which is what I believe in my heart and is my experience when I go deep in meditation—then, why, as a friend put it the other day, are people so mean to each other? Why have humans been killing each other with gusto since the dawn of time? Why do violent movies make so much money? And why do most people fail the compassion test when given the choice (in laboratory settings) to choose kindness and forgiveness over ruthlessness?
Years ago I read about a study which found that when men were offered the opportunity to rape without legal consequences, they said, yes, please. I’m telling you, the love stuff doesn’t add up. This is why atheists sound so smart and sensible (even though their reasoning is often tinged with a mocking and aggressive ring, like they really, really want people to join their club). I personally don’t care whether people agree with me on the existence of God, or of love as the foundation of our being. I just want answers, and I don’t feel like waiting until I die to figure it out. Which brings me back to the place I always end up. Deciding that this thing called life is too big a mystery for me to explain away with ease.
Maybe God is not love; maybe God is something altogether different. Perhaps it’s an energy that encompasses love and all its opposites, and that we must choose which part of us we want to embrace. Maybe there’s no such thing as one definitive human nature. See what I mean? The questions are endless. So, rather than continue to rack my brain on the seemingly violent penchant of human beings (which often leaves me feeling sad an helpless—all you need to do is read your morning paper), what I’ve decided to do is to try to be kinder and more compassionate and more loving myself. I think that’s as good a start as any.
Soon after writing this blog, I came upon this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.”
Hey, maybe this wisdom thing isn’t a bunch of BS, after all.