Dare to be Wise

At the 2020 Democratic Party National Convention the candidate Vice President Joe Biden, accepted the nomination to become the next President of the United States.  He opened his speech by saying, “Ella Baker, a giant of the civil rights movement, left us with this wisdom: Give people light and they will find a way. Give people light. Those are words for our time.”

I am not promoting or supporting one politician over another, as I live far away from the USA, on the other side of the world. But I thought those words were remarkable as an opening statement by a prominent politician. I have been following politics across all media both locally and internationally for over 50 years and I haven’t ever come across a leading politician who has phrased their vision in that way.

Biden may be reading a speech crafted by speech writers, but for any politician to say, “Give people light and they will find a way” is a different political approach. It is usually the other way around. Politicians have their own version of, “I make these promises and have these beliefs, so you will vote for me”. Biden is suggesting that we share enlightenment as a solution to the issues we face.

Biden also spoke about America being cloaked “in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division”. Clearly this does not only apply to America; there is too much anger, fear and division in many countries around the globe manifesting in dissatisfaction, isolation and unrest. One can easily be cynical and say this is just a politician speaking inspiring language in a speech trying to rally his supporters and appeal to an electorate. But we all have to find a way to bring an enlightened perspective to that anger, division and fear. For change to happen I think there is a need across the world to ‘bring the light’ so that people can ‘find the way’.

The ‘Age of Enlightenment’  was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. This brought fresh ideasabout democracy, ending slavery and encouraging the scientific method. The Age of Enlightenment  led to significant advancement.  

In 1784 in an essay entitled ‘Answering the Question: What Is Enlightenment?’ philosopher Immanuel  Kant wrote that ‘Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Kant argues that the immaturity is self-inflicted, not from a lack of understanding, but from the lack of courage to use one’s reason, intellect, and wisdom. He exclaims that the motto of the Enlightenment is ‘Dare to be wise!’. (1)

In this time that we live in now, we still have to ‘dare to be wise’ – that is, to have the courage to bring our wisdom to the circumstance in which we find ourselves in. This includes bringing our wisdom to our anger, fear and division. It is not so easy to do that, as almost all people at some point will find it a challenge to remember their reason, intellect and wisdom when circumstances are not going well.

To bring an enlightened perspective of reason, intellect and wisdom when one experiences a dark state, opens up a way forward. Most people experience a dark state in their lives and retreat into isolation, fear or anger. It is easy to be cynical, nasty and mean, but in that dark state we can dare to be wise and change our own thinking. In changing the way one thinks so that one shines the light into the world, we can see current events in a positive way.

In my own business I deal with people that come from all walks of life and employ people from across the social and cultural spectrum. I find at times what is missing in their lives is wisdom. There are times when they get into trouble because:

  1. they lack wisdom in creating their life
  2. they lack wisdom in developing their relationships 
  3. they lack wisdom in the way they speak to each other
  4. there is a lack of wisdom in the underlying tone of their expression.

When wisdom isn’t in the underlying tone of their expression what comes out is divisive rather than generative. Then what they say does not uplift and transform the situation; rather it is a vortex dragging them down. This lack of wisdom reflects in the circumstances in which they live because they create a culture that is a reflection of the tone that they express. The culture is a reflection of that anger, fear and division.

One of the skills that one acquires when one brings an enlightened tone to one’s world is to become a creator of a more refined level of culture in an authentic way. The culture is transformed because people are expressing from a higher quality of tone. Such a transformation may not be easy, as it will take:

  1. honesty
  2. respect
  3. an openness to change
  4. an attitude of service
  5. willingness to do one’s best.

We all have to have the wisdom to do that in the circumstances we find ourselves in. The more we bring that higher consciousness of wisdom, the more we will grow as a person. At other times we have to be willing to be open to change. We have to consider how we can bring wisdom into our lives and also how to transform the culture that we are living in.

If we change the tone of our expression it changes the culture because the culture is a reflection of the internal tone we experience. Later on in his speech Biden said, “We can choose the path of becoming angrier, less hopeful, and more divided. A path of shadow and suspicion. Or we can choose a different path and together, take this chance to heal, to be reborn, to unite. A path of hope and light”. Again, quite a remarkable insight from a politician who wants to lead the free world.

To bring enlightenment into the world we have to have a philosophical core in place and then have the courage to express from that core. We are all challenged to bring a range of expression that uplifts the culture in which we live. When we do that we are coming from a more mature stance.

If one’s core philosophy is bringing enlightenment it is because there is an uplifting tone underlying what is said. Even in Presidential politics candidates attempt to have an uplifting tone to inspire the nation. Consider it is our internal tone that creates culture and that as we change the tone, we change the culture,

Through our own inner state of enlightenment, we can bring maturity into the circumstances we find ourselves in no matter how difficult and challenging they are. We need to develop our philosophical core to carry a tone in a way that uplifts our immediate circumstance, transforming the culture in which we live.

Reference: (1) Wikipedia

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