Friday, March 7, 2008


A wise person has perspective. She can see the big picture without losing sight of the small. She can see the part without losing sight of the whole. She understands the partnerships of day and night, good and bad, the known and the unknown. She has observed how it all fits together, including her own limitations and immense ignorance - and that realization makes her humble, insightful and flexible. She is free to creatively see and respond to what's actually around her.

"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." This famous 'Serenity Prayer' arises out of, and nurtures, wisdom.

As individuals, we are inherently more limited than a community. Although we can consult books and friends and critics, in the end, we are limited to our own single perspective. We are, alas, only one person, looking at the world from one place, one history, one pattern of knowing.

However, as we all know, it is not easy to do something creative with diverse opinions and experiences. It's much easier to settle for lowest-common-denominator agreements, press for (or give into) one-sided decisions, or enforce thoughtless compliance. But a wise person knows that such approaches inevitably overlook important factors and result in poor decisions. An individual jumping to conslusions is comparable to a public rush to judgment. In the long run, it only makes things worse.

Those dysfunctional approaches arise from a false dichotomy between teh individual and the group. In fact, individuality and community are two facets of the same thing - our alive humanity. Indiviudals and communities can only be whole and healthy when they nurture each other.

Just as a healthy body contains a deep wisdom that enables it to heal itself and to go about its daily business with energy and intelligence, so does a friendship, town, company, or nation. The creative, healing wisdom of the body politic.