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"Wisdom is a state of the human mind characterized by profound understanding and deep insight."

Joseph W. Meeker made that elaborate statement in his article "Wisdom and Wilderness." It creates a superior working definition of wisdom.

Wisdom goes beyond intelligence or formal knowledge. Wisdom is 'the knowledge of the knowledge'. Wisdom is knowledge tempered by experience.

Today, wisdom is a word that is seldom used. When it is utilized, it is applied incorrectly. Many, unknowingly, mistake wisdom for intelligence or cleverness or I.Q. Jerry Ortiz y Pino addressed wisdom in his column in the Santa Fe Reporter. The following is a quote from that column: "[Wisdom is] one of those slightly old-fashioned words, the type that slip out of style… the words we substitute aren't quite the same, we're made poorer by the substitutions, losing slices of the original meaning with each change."

A person can be born with intelligence or cleverness, but wisdom is something that not all will obtain. A clever person may know, or know how to find, the means to any end, where a wise person can discern which ends are worthy of expending the means on.

Unlike formal education that requires learning and retaining in memories, wisdom requires living, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. Also, being able to listen to others who have made mistakes and learning from them. Wisdom is not something pigeonholed into a specific skill, or is it an academic study.

One can make an ethical connection between wisdom and the way in which an individual lives their lives. Plato held that a man living a good life when reason rules the will and appetites, as a result, he is wise, brave and temperate. Wisdom as a virtue.

Simply living a good life may have brought wisdom in Plato's time, but it eludes many in this time. Numerous live good lives without ever holding or glimpsing the knowledge behind the knowledge. Without ever having "profound understanding" or "deep insight." One must live more than a good life to achieve wisdom. One must live, with their eyes open, willing to see and understand. Wanting to see and understand. Wanting to live.

Copyright Jonelin (L.B. Jonni Taylor) ©1999