Wisdom is an elusive quality that is often misunderstood. Wisdom is not the same as intelligence, though it is rare to find a wise person who is not also intelligent. Wisdom is more than experience, though it is rare to find a wise person who is not experienced in life. In many cultures elders were automatically considered wise. They had navigated the challenges of youth, adulthood, parenthood and other predictable stages of life successfully, and just to have survived indicated that they must also be wise.
This is less true today. With all that humans are able to do, it is quite possible to arrive at old age with little or no true insight or wisdom. And although wisdom is not necessarily associated with young people, we do acknowledge exceptions with the phrase “wise beyond their years”.
For me, one of the best examples from literature of the quality of wisdom is the description of the parents and grandparents in One Hundred Years of Solitude. These fictional characters, though sometimes impractical, had learned the essence of what it means to be human. Of course the wisdom was not that of the actual characters but of the author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I am not sure what allowed Marquez to capture the essence of wisdom when he himself was a relatively young author in his forties, but undoubtedly it has something to do with his ability to truly appreciate the foibles of humans and the human condition. The state of wisdom does not ensure that the wise one will always know what to do. However wise people do have empathy and the long- term perspective that the world desperately needs at this time.
The dictionary defines wisdom as knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life; as the natural ability to understand things that most other people cannot understand; as knowledge of what is proper or reasonable; as good sense or good judgment. It goes on to say that wisdom is the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships and the use of good sense, equating wisdom to insight and good judgement.
We hear very little about wisdom in daily life. It is almost as if we somehow know we have created a culture which not only does not value wisdom but feels threatened by it. There are notable exceptions, and I would certainly view the ability of Nelson Mandela to forgive and forge partnerships with those who had oppressed him as true human wisdom. I only wish we had more such shining examples.
Perhaps you are pursuing a path of wisdom at this very time. For the sake of the world I hope you are but one of many.