Sunday, November 20, 2011

Wisdom of the Departed

There are those who feel like the wisdom of persons alive in this current age is somehow superior to the wisdom of all those lived before us.  In their view, those who lived a hundred, two hundred, a thousand or even two thousand years ago were ignorant and unenlightened compared to us today.    By extension, their precepts are to be shrugged off and their admonitions disregarded.  The only wisdom that counts in this view is the conventional wisdom of our present day.  The scriptures and holy books that our ancestors studied are held to be without value, except as quaint relics of antique and inferior societies.   

Modern people who accept this prejudiced view of prior generations will prove to be the biggest fools in all of human history.   The principle they assume is true is that the current generation which just happens to be alive and walking around today is somehow smarter and wiser than the vast multitudes of souls which lived before it.   This assumption is often made without even any thought or reflection over whether or not it makes any sense.    Why would all wisdom be present only in the generation which happens to be alive when you are?   How is it that the wisdom of the ancients, accumulated through the ages, and passed down from generation to generation because people across centuries of time found it had value, is suddenly to be dismissed out of hand?

Our technology has improved exponentially over that of previous generations, but that does not mean that our morality has.   It does not mean that our wisdom has.   We have better tools, but that does not mean that we are better men.

Eratosthenes was a Greek- Egyptian who lived over two hundred years before Christ, but still over a thousand years after Egyptians had constructed, without power tools or computers, the mighty pyramids.     Among his many accomplishments, he calculated the diameter of the earth within 2% accuracy.  It occurred to him how this figure might be arrived at by observing minor differences in the way that the Summer Solstice sun shone on two different wells in two different Egyptian cities.    Hundreds of years before that, King Solomon described the Water Cycle in Ecclesiastes 1:7.    Hundreds of years before that, Israel was the first known democracy in human history when the Israelites first chose their own judges (Deuteronomy 1:9-13).   

That system lasted well over 300 years, longer than our Republic has.  It ended when the people grew corrupt enough that they decided that the burden of self-government required too much effort.   They thought that selecting a King to do all their governing for them would make their lives easier.   The prophet Samuel explained to them (in 1st Samuel Chapter 8) in detail the troubles they would bring on themselves by rejecting the principle of self-government under God in favor of a strong executive.   Self-government is not a new idea, nor is the idea of turning control of your life over to some government power in the hopes they can rule over you better than you can yourself a new idea.  

In all areas of life, the same wisdom and the same foolishness has been tried before.   Each wise person learns the lessons of those who have trod the earth before them.  Each fool either ignores those lessons, or believes they do not apply to them.   Contempt for the past leads to disaster in the future.   Modern adults arrogantly dismiss the ideas and values of our forefathers, and then wonder why their children dismiss their own wisdom.  

Modern society is spinning out of control, and our arrogant dismissiveness towards the ancient wisdom is a big part of the problem.   The new wisdom looks a lot like the old foolishness to me.  Just as I would listen to you or another honorable man who was trying to tell me something, and give it all due consideration, so would I pick up a book and listen to the words of the dead and give what they have to say due consideration.    

Too many today feel that scripture must be wrong simply because it’s old.  Too many dismiss the words of our Founding Fathers as “dead white guys.  ” Such fools as that may consider the opinion of Lady Gaga to be more relevant than that of Thomas Jefferson, but I would council my friends against such a bias.   Because of our modern creation of mass media, it is much easier to listen to the views of those alive today than to seek out the opinions of the departed, but that does not make them more correct.


Post a Comment

<< Home