When people lived in villages and tribes, there were older people who were sought out to provide their wisdom and knowledge for the benefit of younger people who were struggling with the common problems that ‘life’ presents to everyone. A young mother with a ‘cranky’ child would seek the counsel of an older and more experienced mother. Such people are readily available in a ‘village’ society. Today, our lifestyle has imprisoned our people in electronic boxes that replace the natural social resources of daily living in past generations.
Some people use computers as their reference to every problem that they have. Many/most people have grown away from seeking wisdom of older people. Instead they invent our own ‘truth’ as it is represented in their peer group which is predominantly made up of people with experience like their own. The peer groups among teenagers are other teens. The ‘truth’ generated among college students is similar with the additional element of the ‘social engineers’ who bring alternative values and politics into every class they teach. The ‘wisdom’ generated ‘in these situations produce is a case of ‘the blind leading the blind’.
My intention is to not so much to offer answers as it is to raise awareness. I believe that when people understand the problem, they will find their own good answers
The missing quality has been called, ‘horse sense’, ‘common sense’ and ‘the voice of experience’. I make no claim to having much of it, but I see in other people the need that they have for what I have learned ‘the hard way’ by surviving my mistakes and learning lessons. One expression that sums it up is; ‘The wisdom of mankind’ as it has been refined and proved over the millennia of man’s existence.
Great social change has happened in just my lifetime. Both of my grandfathers were Civil War veterans. The machine age was being born with the first automobile and the first airplane. There were steamboats on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. (A great grandfather captained a side wheeler on the Mississippi river.) We went from dirt roads and horses to paved roads, first with only one lane of a two lane road paved with bricks that was shared by traffic in both directions. (You don’t remember that, do you?) Now we have paved roads eight and more lanes wide.
People ‘left the farm’ and the social resources of their community of several generations. They assemble in communities of like people. Often, they live in the ‘splendid isolation’ of a neighborhood where they don’t even know the names of their next door neighbors.
When I was a child, we had the social art of ‘borrowing’. Our family had a stay-at-home mother and a work-every-day father. We had an automobile; a model T ford that my father drove to work. This left my mother socially isolated in the house with 4 children (with no radio or TV in those days). Often, there came a time in the early afternoon when Mrs. Clark would knock on our kitchen door. She wanted to ‘borrow’ a cup of sugar to bake a cake, or something similar. My mother would start coffee brewing in the ‘percolator’. (Did you ever see one of those noisy things – with a little glass dome in the lid?) Mrs. Clark and my mother would pull out chairs from the kitchen table and talk for a long time, exchanging the latest gossip and other important news. During this time, personal problems would be discussed and advice was given. Advice would be offered from neighbor to neighbor and from old to young. This was our ‘village’.
Today, it is not uncommon for each member of the family to have their own automobile. This was true when we raised our family. There were six people and at least six automobiles in our driveway. People are seldom home as they go to their particular events with their peer group. There is no ‘village’ to provide the unique social services that a village offers.
Writing this kind of book is a very personal thing, so I will start by telling how I got to the place in my life where I decided to write it. I have had a very active email correspondence with many people since 1996. Sometimes, the exchanges were very deep and personal as they asked me for advice regarding severe problems. (In a sense, the internet has become a village with its own demography according to each individuals email activities.) I often received very grateful comments from my correspondents, saying such things as; ‘your advice is very good and you should write a book.’, and, ‘Of all the people that I have talked to, including professional counselors, you are the only one who understood and gave to me the support that I needed.’ This kind of response has been increasing in frequency and urgency, so I finally decided that I would seriously look into the proposition. This book is the result.
I have no training in counseling but I believe that I have a degree of ‘common sense’ that has developed as I have matured. As I write, I am 94 years old. I have recognized a common thread relating to great personal distress and the lack of personal fulfillment.
People don’t know who they are!
The purpose of this book is to help people to dispel the lies that have tied them down for all of their lives and help them to realize the power and control that they have had all along by discovering who they really are.
The subject of this book is ‘Surviving Life’, even ‘flourishing’. The chapters break out some of the important the elements of our life that can be successfully addressed if we ‘know who we are’.
In order to avoid gross redundancy, each chapter implicitly includes the elements of the preceding chapters, so read the first chapter before you read the chapters in order or you may be left stranded without resolution.
People of all ages naturally believe that what they perceive is ‘truth’. Perceived truth is in a constant state of flux and amendment. The element that drives change in perception is growth in wisdom. We know that young people, by definition, are immature and not ‘wise’. We also believe that ‘old’ people can be ‘wise’ as compared to the young, by virtue of their learning experiences. Oddly, intelligence is not a precursor to wisdom. I know a person who is of Mensa intelligence. (Mensa requires members to have intelligence in the upper 2% of the population.) This person was very foolish (the opposite of wise) and caused great personal distress for themselves and others. I have also seen others who were ‘lesser endowed’ who showed amazing ‘wisdom’. I will relate the elements that I call ‘wisdom’ as I have lived from stage to stage in my maturing process. My hope is that this book will be useful as a help in navigating the shoals of life.
The title of this book implies the word ‘success. It might be a good idea to offer a working definition of this term, here in the very beginning of the book, let’s say that ‘success’ is the product of doing very well under the circumstances that you experience by using your resources to your best advantage. This definition will be refined as the book progresses.
Let’s start with, “Who are you?” Every person is a raw material (not at all the same, even with twins) that is brought into the world to experience the processing of circumstances and relationships in their life. Everyone is ‘different’ and this is such a universal quality that everyone is ‘the same’. This dichotomy may be confusing but it is absolutely true. In other words, being different is a universal quality, so everyone is ‘different’. This makes us all the ‘same’ in our all being ‘different.’ This universal quality prevents anyone from being ‘special’ because they are ‘different.’
Of course, we do have nearly all of our attributes in common, but our differences are what keep us from being 'standardized' (like ants) by the influences of our society. This book is a summation of my observations as I have experienced the many and varied propositions that only many years of living can produce.
Clearly, people’s experiences may be very different from other people’s experiences. This will, of necessity, yield different results in the maturity of individuals, so my observations and beliefs cannot be held as a standard of anything. Still, I hope that this offering helps those who need it.
I know that many readers will believe that I am ‘old fashioned’ and that I don’t understand the real contemporary world. They will say that I am living in the past and that my understanding is not valid today. Please consider that mankind has lived on the face of this Earth for many thousands of years, so ‘today’ is just a passing moment in the history of mankind. Social values are constantly changing, so what is ‘good’ today may likely be ‘bad’ tomorrow. Remember the ‘mini skirts’ that were worn ‘up to here’? They were soon to be followed by ‘the new look’ with skirt lengths to the ankle. That’s the nature of society, it is always changing.
During the time that men have populated the Earth, certain concepts have emerged to be called ‘wisdom’. In this book, they will be called; ‘the wisdom of mankind.’ This is not at an original idea with me. A cliché that has been around ‘forever’ is: “The wisdom of mankind is greater than the wisdom of any man.” This concept has been known from the time of the Greek philosophers, and even before in the Chinese culture. This constant refining process has produced a fund of wisdom that has been proved in many cultures and conditions. Please don’t allow your shallow understanding to stand against this fund of knowledge or you will be the loser.
Where can you find this ‘wisdom’? First off, you must be able to recognize it when you see it or you will never ‘find’ it, will you? That is what this book is all about.