Thursday, February 19, 2009

Steering Straight to Wisdom

Ever had foot-in-mouth disease? I have, frequently. No sooner do we think something, and then blurt it out, mud’s all over our face, and others are more than likely hurt in the process--is it bad luck?

Balthasar Gracian had the fantastic knack at advice regarding practical “worldly” wisdom; the subsequent nugget is broken down into its parts (in italics and quotation marks) with my own commentary following:

“Select the Lucky and Avoid the Unlucky,” he said. “Ill-luck is generally the penalty of folly, and there is no disease so contagious to those who share in it.”

Perhaps we can reverse this and say folly causes the majority of our bad luck. Praying for wisdom counts in the longer term like keeping a watchful eye on what we think and say does in the shorter term. The bad luck of folly lingers like the ethanol smell on a day old drunk. It permeates, dilutes and destroys.

“Never open the door to a lesser evil, for other and greater ones invariably slink in after it.”

This is about compromise. When we allow things in between our defences during a weak moment, be almost sure and certain these will multiply, sporning in all sorts of wondrously hideous directions. Compromise often sets off a chain of events we can no longer control.

“The greatest skill at cards is to know when to discard; the smallest of current trumps is worth more than the ace of trumps of the last game.”

This can be seen as the time to remove ourselves stealthily from a situation or conversation that’s either going nowhere or reeks decidedly off. We need to know when to be off too. There’s the all important role of timing and poise to consider here. Stealthily removing ourselves from situations and conversations, however, is never done to the offence of others; it’s done subtly with care and respect.

“When in doubt, follow the suit of the wise and prudent; sooner or later they will win the odd trick.”

In life, we should endeavour to get into the habit of asking, ‘What’s the wise thing to do?’ What would someone we know who’s wise do if they were in our place? Dare I say it, ‘What would Jesus do?’

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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