Tuesday, December 26, 2006
A New Year's Wish (2007)
I have heard and read a lot of New Year's salutations over the last few days. All of them are full of words like "health," "happiness," and "prosperity" -- the usual suspects. And while I do not question the good intentions of the well wishers, it strikes me that in all my fifty-nine new years, no one has ever wished that I would receive more of something I obviously could use -- "wisdom."
So, as we enter 2007, what I wish for all of us -- from our small corner of the world, to the outer edges of the planet -- is more wisdom.
To begin with, I wish that my children's generation will possess and apply more wisdom to their environment than my own has. I wish that they will practise the wisdom of "we" as opposed to "me." I hope that they will reject an economic system which rewards the concentration of wealth and power, and that they will recognize that, in the long run, it is in their own self interest to share whatever wealth and power they acquire.
I hope that we all will recognize that we are connected to every living organism on the planet and that the choices we make for ourselves radiate outward, like the ripples in a pond, and touch everyone and everything. That knowledge should not cripple our ability to act -- even boldly --but it should lead us to do things for the general welfare, not our own.
I pray that all parents will teach their children wisely and well -- and when they fail in that task -- that there will be someone there to take it up. If there is hope, that hope always rests with the next generation.
And I pray that we stop demonizing those who don't look like us, who don't speak our own language and who don't believe as we do. Not because those differences have no significance -- they do -- but because, when we see evil incarnate in others, we cannot see what we share in common; and there can be no progress until we recognize our common needs.
Finally, I wish that we have the wisdom to learn from history. If nothing else, history explains how we got from there to here. And, because situations tend to repeat themselves, it is wise to know how the understanding of and reaction to those situations affected future generations.
Wisdom does not ensure a good outcome. Like King Solomon, we can begin well and end badly. And, as I have said elsewhere, possessing a string of academic accolades does not immunize one from folly. But the century we just left behind us provided more than enough folly to cover all of human history. One can always hope that this century will take a wiser, better course.