God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. – Reinhold Niebuhr
Wisdom is something humans have sought after since the Garden of Eden. But, as in that story of Eve and Adam, we often attempt to acquire wisdom from the wrong places.
The fruit that Satan offered to Eve was not from the tree of wisdom. The bite in Eve’s hand that successfully seduced Adam was not a magical morsel of discernment. Instead, the forbidden package contained only the knowledge of good and evil.
Knowledge is only an element in the equation that presents us with wisdom. Wisdom demands more than knowing. From experience we know that wisdom isn’t fully realized unless we act on that wisdom.
The most memorable quotes from all sources are those that impart wisdom. Almost anyone can say something wise. Some people are better at it than others. Perhaps you have a collection of “best sayings” from famous people or your peculiar uncle. Regardless, we all take solace in grasping wisdom and making an effort to align our lives with its direction.
My job is to think about conflict and peace. The contrast between the two is quite stark. Yet, if you chart them on a line, you’ll often find that the distance between them can be very small.
The difference between conflict and peace is what I call complete wisdom.
Complete Wisdom = Knowing + Action
I am constantly searching for ways to help myself and others move from a state of conflict to a realm of peace. As such, I am constantly searching for complete wisdom.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve found much of what I’m looking for in the sacred texts. While I’m certain that there are concentrations of wisdom nuggets in many locations, my recent studies have led me to what is for me the mother lode of wisdom thought — Proverbs 18.
In the coming weeks or months or even a year, I’ll be taking a closer look at these writings from King Solomon who, according to Scripture, was the wisest man to walk this earth. And as a conflict management person, I’ll be viewing his words from the unique perspective found in that open field between conflict and peace.
In the meantime, I hope that you will adopt Niebuhr’s prayer as one of your daily devotions. Serenity and courage can be yours.