Sunday, 31 December 2017

A Moment of Reflection... the end of the Year

"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"
T.S. Eliot


If you travel northwest from Athens, on the road to Corinth, you will come to the ruins of the once great city of Delphi. Delphi is the place once thought by the Greeks to be the center of the world. Here, in the 6th century B.C., the Oracle in the Temple of Apollo, was at its busiest, as it was called upon to dispense wisdom and to give answers to some of the pressing questions of the day. 
But, the Oracle of the classical world was silent before the age old questions like 
Who am I ?  
 Why am I here ? 
What should I be doing ?  and Where am I going?

From the beginning of time man has been trying to make sense of himself and his world. He has been seeking understanding. But as time marches on, man isn't getting the understanding he seeks, 
he isn't happier, and he hasn't been able to conquer his own nature.

What's wrong ? 

With all the great minds and thinking that have gone before us, with all the lessons of history left for us to examine, it is difficult to imagine why we aren't further along than we are. Why are we asking the same questions in our search for meaning, the Greeks were asking 2600 years ago. 
Do we not yet have enough information available to us?


We now live in a world where we are inundated with more information, on a daily basis, than we can possibly process. It is an over-communicated environment. There are so many unwanted messages bombarding us, that often the ones we want get lost in the noise. The average person can now communicate faster, with more people—without thinking—than ever before. 
Information has become disposable. It doesn't matter whether you are connected to the Internet or not. 
We get hit with it at every turn. 
At work. At home as we try to relax. And at all points in between.

So what about it? 

What are we doing with this information? 
Is all this information really doing us any good? 
Are we living happier lives? 
Are we experiencing fewer problems? 
Are our decisions better? 
Are we any wiser? 
History tells us that we haven't learned much in spite of all we know. 
The situation changes, but the problems remain the same. 
Clearly, we need to do something better with all of this information. 


T.S. Eliot posed the question: 
"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? 
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" 

In a day and age where the number one shows are sitcoms and we commonly find best sellers 
written by those on the fringe of society, we are clearly in need of better thinking.
 We need wisdom. ......

It is essential then, that we learn to let the unwanted information we receive go in one ear and out the other and to get the knowledge we need, to stop somewhere in between. It is interesting that armed with mountains of information, we have turned arguing into a national pastime. It seems one can always provide more information to support a claim. We begin to think might makes right—more is better. 
In turn, relationships fracture as we go off with our own tangential, myopic views. 
We lose perspective. ....

To gain perspective, it is helpful to study events and people throughout history. 
The past is the sum of all we are today. Understand it. 
Know why we are where we are today. 
Napoleon said, "May my son study history for it is the only true philosophy, the only true psychology." 
Take time each day with those who have left their lives for our example. In time, it will broaden your perspective and deepen your understanding. You will gain many lifetimes of experience in your own.....  

Wisdom requires humility. You must be teachable. 
If you are to put these things into practice, you must be willing to take a look at what you thought you knew about yourself and the ideas you hold. It requires an outward focus not a selfish one. 
Often people who know a lot can't get past that fact and as a result never gain insight into what they know.  A wise man never stops asking questions. 
He realizes that what he knows is but a drop in a sea of knowledge. ....

As we examine the results of our behavior and learn from the experiences of others, and conform to the laws common to every living thing, we begin to create a yardstick to judge what we know and the knowledge we come into contact with. We can learn what is acceptable. You are the only one that can gain wisdom for yourself. No one can make you wise or make you not wise. It's up to you. Any time you see, hear, or experience a lesson for better living, it's up to you to do something about it. The job of living is to make this decision. Put what you have learned into practice or you will never be wise.

Text source, with thanks, here:


"Dare to be wise; begin!
He who postpones the hour of living rightly 
is like the rustic who wants for the river to run out before he crosses."
- Horace 


 Thank you all so much for still visiting my blog and for your comments!

Wishing now all of you a pleasant New Year's Eve, a peaceful turn of the year.


2 Paintings by 
Jan Davidsz de Heem 
- c. 17 April 1606 in Utrecht - before 26 April 1684 in Antwerp
T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) Poet and critic, 
he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948 
and the American Medal of Freedom in 1965