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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Wisdom’s Timeline

In what areas would you like more wisdom? How can you get it? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 486).

I am reminded of Tolstoy’s story “How Much Land Does a Man Need.” This story tells of a man who was promised all the land that he could circumference on foot in one day. The man was unwise because he kept walking further and further for more and more land and the day closed before he could return to the starting point – therefore, obtaining no land at all except for the 6 feet of land that formed his grave because of his death due to overexertion at the end.

He was unwise in that he started out without dedicating himself to the answer to a simple question: what is the most efficient and effective action I can perform to include the most fertile land? Without raising this question, his task was open-ended and invited greed. In short, he should have circumferenced himself before circumferencing the land.

So then this is the most fundamental aspect of wisdom – wisdom is that which dynamically does the most efficient and effective thing.  No matter what field we are discussing in which we want more wisdom, the initial step must always be to outflank greed with a self-discipline that allows discernment of the most efficient and effective outcome in an iterative and progressive way.  That is, if the man in Tolstoy’s story had sprained his ankle at the outset, his initial plan would need to be revised and reframed with the question: What is the most efficient and effective thing I can do now?  We are left with the need for wisdom characterized by disciplined flexibility that conforms to the realistic challenges that confront us over time.

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