EVERYONE wants to rule the world, or at least have control over their own world. Surely this is a good thing – that we’d want the best of life, opportunity, and relationships. But the trouble is we lack so much wisdom, plus we cannot orchestrate life as we would like. This is where the Proverbs of three thousand years ago helps.
Let’s face it we could all do with a bit more wisdom.
Back in 2007/2008 I spent eighteen months mapping Proverbs in order to break the 900 sayings down to a few broad groups of virtue to help in the quest for wisdom. I managed to get them all into seven groups: diligence, prudence, shalom, balance, trust, respect, and finally, wisdom. The entire work I called What Is Truth? (It’s free.)
Studying Proverbs makes us our best own coach, our own trustworthy mentor, our most studious learner, and our own wisest teacher. As we reflect on Proverbs, there is always one or two (or more) that seem written for me and you, personally.
Wisdom is thinking and living in accordance with how things actually are.
Wisdom is attuned, acclimatised and accepting of reality. Wisdom’s most urgent question has to be, therefore, “What is truth?”
Wisdom’s opposite, folly, is a way of thinking and living that ignores how things actually are.
Folly denies the truth – even to its own peril.
Diligence, Prudence, Shalom, Balance, Trust, Respect >>> Wisdom
Diligence and prudence are old-fashioned words perhaps not that well recognised these days. Diligence is self-discipline, conscientiousness, and being proactive. Prudence is restraint, moderation, and discretion. These two are virtues of self-mastery.
Shalom is the consummation of peace both from within and from without; it’s a holistic sense of wellbeing within the self and within the world. Shalom is the sense of completeness; the blessedness of self-awareness. Balance protects and enhances our vitality. Together these two are life-givers.
Trust and respect are virtues I see that are social awareness relationship enhancers. It takes courage and faith to be honest; to trust. Justice with love are capital virtues. Respect is about an unquestioned integrity driven by the virtues of humility, compassion, and social intelligence.
All these six items of virtue – diligence, prudence, shalom, balance, trust and respect – make up wisdom. And as pairs they contribute to our virtuous capacity, our maintenance, and our social graces.
What is wisdom? We might as well ask, as Pilate did, “What is truth?” Wisdom is thinking and living in accordance with how things actually are. According to Proverbs, these six virtues provide for wisdom: diligence, prudence, shalom, balance, trust, and respect. It is wise to partake of them. They are free.
© 2007, 2013 S. J. Wickham.