Wednesday, September 1, 2010

People of Wisdom (Part IV of a series) (4.8.09)

Who are the people around us who practice kindness and compassion?  Who are those from whom we can draw wisdom?  And what is the wisdom, the kindness, the compassion that they bestow upon us in their words and actions? 

I invite you to post the names of people who impart wisdom or who live wisely.  They may be people you know personally.  They may be famous or unsung.  They may be contemporary or not.  For the wonderful thing about wisdom is that it is timeless.  Indeed, true wisdom seems to have the character of something that endures, that conveys a kind of meaning which transcends time and place.

Erikson identified wisdom as the fruit and virtue of Stage 8:  The ability, through facing one's own mortality, to face death without fear.  And through facing one's own mortality, choosing to turn and invest one's life with a desire to pass on that wisdom to others.

Here at the Cafe many of us were privileged to interact with Lux Umbra Dei.  At the time he came to the Cafe he was already weakened with a battle with cancer and had endured surgery, chemo, and radiation.  Though he has not written anything here since the third week of December, his spirit lives on.  And I'd like to quote from one of his posts in mid November called The Great Community because I believe it exemplifies a message of wisdom and can guide us in finding further examples, of wise people and wise words:

When we talk about morality and ethics and community and dignity we are sometimes unaware of the hillside from which we gaze out at these issues.  That hillside is our definition of our own selves.
We have to re-examine what "human" means when it relates to moral dilemmas, community, and compassion.
Lets leave that term aside for a bit and look at the concept of personhood. Who qualifies? It is a little like expanding the voting franchise. From landed white males, to minorities, and finally to women and youths. Who falls under the aegis of our compassion and concern and our sense of right and wrong?
Perhaps the time has come to expand it. And if we do center it on a definition like: "that which can give rise in us of compassion and concern", then we might extend our ethical umbrella out to cover starfish, trees, and the very earth itself.  And so too our sense of community.
When we do, we probably will find that there is a deepening of our concern for each others as persons and as humans.

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