You Don’t What You Don’t Know

There are some people in this world who are just not opened to the possibility that they don’t know everything about everything. It’s interesting to note that mentality was one of the primary causes of “Early Middle Ages”, otherwise known a the “Dark Ages” between the years 500-1000. Basically, the church, which pretty much ruled the world after the fall of the Roman Empire, declared that everything God intends us to know has already been learned. This basically halted all scientific exploration as well as philosophical studies for a five hundred year period. Yeah, the church was that powerful!

Getting back to today’s “I already know everything” people, global warming can’t be true because they don’t believe it. In other words, if something is too complicated then it’s fake. They too often look for that single “silver bullet” that will cure everything. Everything that can’t be solved with gut feeling or a silver bullet just isn’t solvable to them.

Even if they are not formally educated on the subject they consider themselves to be “street smart” and that is all that matters to them. Many of this category likely make up the MAGA base.

In reality, the more knowledgeable you are the more you realize how much you don’t know. That brings to mind something I learned in my only philosophy course in college. The graphic below illustrates the concept.

The Extent of Knowledge

Just think of the box as the extent of knowledge available to you. The top left corner is what you know. The little box inside that box are the things you think you know but aren’t true. Then comes the bigger box of what you know you don’t know. And finally, there is what you don’t even know that you don’t know. Don’t think of the above as being to scale. In reality, the “what you don’t know you don’t know” will fill a football stadium!

Since I found so many neat illustrations I will leave this post with a few of them.

Getting back to the guy who thinks he is an expert on everything (you know who I am talking about), we must realize that he actually doesn’t know much of anything at all and a big majority of what he thinks he knows is wrong. But, the sad part of all of this is that those MAGA followers are even worse than he is, as they unquestionably believe him!

Wit, Wisdom, and Insight

This is going to be a pretty philosophical post so be ready.

The three words in the title above are a strong part of what I want to be when I grow up. I realize that these things don’t happen overnight. They are instead a lifelong process.  I proudly think I have come quite a way in obtaining them now that I am beginning my eighth decade on this earth. A few more and maybe they will be complete. 🙂

2018-09-08_14-58-02.pngJust kidding of course, but these three characteristics do take a long time to mold into a psyche.  Which is harder to obtain? They all take different paths to accomplish.  I think the secret behind wit is the ability to see the irony around you and the ability to laugh at yourself and how you react to the world. Or maybe it is just realizing that for the most part life is really just one big joke.

Wisdom is a lifelong process and since I have lead a pretty long life I think I am to one degree or another wise.  In order to be wise, you must first have been foolish.  Wisdom does not come from always being perfect but instead, it comes from making mistakes and realizing there was a better way.  After a couple thousand cycles of this, you might finally be able to proclaim wisdom. I might just be getting close

2018-09-08_14-57-08.pngInsight is another matter. Insight is being able to understand different situations and intuitively grasping the best solution.  I’m not sure this can even be learned. Either you have it or you don’t. But being skeptical of what you are told is part of this process.


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Good Judgment

Good judgment comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment Will Rogers

canstockphoto29834965.jpgIt’s time I put out a post on the new quote in the header above.  I think experience and wisdom often go hand in hand and as Will says learning from mistakes is a big part of it.  I personally think I can remember more details of the things I got wrong than the things I got right.

Due to my Aspie characteristics, I made a lot of social mistakes. Looking back I can see where opportunities were presented to me that I just wasn’t aware of at the time. People giving me hints that they wanted to have a relationship with me if I would only agree. I was a wimpy kid who simply couldn’t believe that anyone would be interested in me as a person.

Not standing up for myself was another place where I learned from my mistakes. I simply let too many people take advantage of my naivete.  Looking back I can see where I was a pretty gifted guy and quite a few people took credit for things I did. I just didn’t realize at the time it was happening.

My mistakes in the past have taught me the good judgment I now have.  It is not that I can go back and relive those times, but at least I try to use my current good judgment on today’s circumstances.  Maybe this is another example of  “Wisdom is wasted on the elderly”. I don’t know.

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Wisdom Is Wasted On The Eldery

canstockphoto26910135.jpgI don’t know if I invented the phrase in the title above, I kinda doubt it, but it does pretty much describe how I feel about the subject. Getting to the very core of this subject I wish I had learned most of my lessons earlier in life.  What good is that wisdom now that I am out of the mainstream and heading downhill? If I had just learned some lessons earlier I could have more successfully addressed the problems in my life.

I like to think that I am a better person as a result of looking at the world from a different view. At the time I didn’t realize that my Asperberger’s traits were not how all my classmates saw things.  I couldn’t understand why I was so clumsy with many interactions with others, especially female others. It would be years before I realized that there are many others out there in the same straits that I traveled. I could have learned a thing or two from them.

Many claim their legacy is the children and grandchildren they leave behind. Maybe due to the fact that I leave no heirs, I kinda think that is the lazy way to think of it.  Will I leave a mark on this earth after I am gone?  I think I will but with these kinds of things you never really know. But, that is kind of what RJsCorner is about. I always kid that I want to show others all the mistakes in hope that they can learn from them and not have to make the same ones I did.

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Turn Your Wounds Into Wisdom

2018-03-08_09-02-43I get weekly quotes from iHearts143Quotes to help me understand life. This one particularly got my attention. It might seem strange to some but I have often said that  I am a better person because of my deafness. What I mean by that is that through the challenges I have faced because of my deafness has made me much more aware of those who struggle in life. My empathy factor went up several orders of magnitude because of my deafness.

I have come to realize that my inflictions and afflictions (ha) add to the quality of my life. I was poor growing up but didn’t really know it. But because I was poor I have more empathy for those who struggle to keep their head above water.

We all face wounds in our lives and if we turn off the self-pity they produce and try to learn something from them we are better, wiser as a result.

About Wisdom…

Wisdom has been on my mind lately. But before I get started on this topic I need to distinguish between two types of perceived wisdom,  gut wisdom and learned wisdom.

2018-03-05_10-45-25.pngGut Wisdom — Gut wisdom is that feeling you get when you think you instinctively know something. It’s what your gut tells you is the truth. I know the current Oval Office occupant says he is REALLY SMART but I think his self-conceived wisdom is just his biases toward the issue at hand. He may be gut wise but he is definitely not learned wise.

I have to include my wife in the gut wise category. She says statistics are fake because she doesn’t understand them. What her gut tells her is much more reliable than what others who might be more studied on the topic think about the topic at hand. I am an engineer by schooling and took several courses in various fields.  One of those was thermal dynamics. I try to impart some of that wisdom to her but she will have nothing to do with that. I tell her if you want cool night air in one part of the house the best way to do that is to open a window there and then blow air out the other side of the house.  But she will not accept that as her gut wisdom tells her that is not true.

Let’s be truthful about this, gut wisdom is usually just a set of prejudices we learn over time. Gut wisdom is easy to obtain and difficult to expel.

2018-03-05_10-40-18.pngLearned Wisdom — Learned wisdom is among other things about the scientific method. It is about searching for truth.  It is learning from the wisdom of others and maybe just adding a little to it before applying it or passing it on. Learned wisdom is something that takes time and often due diligence to obtain.  It’s hard work. Sometimes it takes years of study to really be wise on a topic. Other times a few days will enable us to just make an informed choice. But it is always about admitting you don’t know something and then doing what is necessary to find the answers.

I like to think of myself as learned wise. If I want to speak up about a topic I study it to see what others have to teach me and then given that information and my personal experiences I try to fabricate my view on the topic. I admit that I don’t know what I don’t know. I look for people wherever I can find them that know more than I do. I value their wisdom.

One of the basic problems today is the people, especially those who are gut wise, who refuse to acknowledge that others know more than they do.  When learned wisdom is not valued we as a society quit moving forward.  And, that is a sad and dangerous thing…


Ignorance Outshines Wisdom

“I don’t suppose there ever was a time when everybody knew as little about what they were talking about as they do today.” – Will Rogers, 19 September 1933

Banner Having Y Say  I like this quote from Will Rogers so much that this is the second time I have used it here on RJsCorner. It just seems like “knowing so little” is in vogue today. Ignorance is almost topping out wisdom with far too many of us. The current Oval Office occupant prides himself on not reading books or anything else for that matter. He gets all his news from selected cable TV news programs even while he proclaims that they are all just “Fake News”. Don’t try to see any logic in that method as there isn’t any.

canstockphoto20722715How does ignorance come to outshine wisdom? Of course, that is not true for all of us but the percentages seem to be drifting in that direction as our recent elections showed us. The religions of 81% of Evangelicals who put Trump in office requires all their members to proclaim that the earth is only 6,000 years old. They refuse to accept any scientific knowledge that says differently. Ignorance has trumped wisdom in their religious lives and it has bled into the rest of their lives. Ignorance outshines wisdom.

Far too many people only read things that they already agree with. Wisdom is not gained by hearing the same thing over and over again. Instead, it is gained by searching out the unfamiliar, looking for new information, new ways to solve old problems. Wisdom is gained through new experiences not just constantly reliving the old ones.

But finally, maybe ignorance is outshining wisdom for too many of us because becoming wise takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot of tolerance to see things differently. Whereas, ignorance is easy peasy. Just latch on to something you are told and disregard everything else about the subject at hand.

Ignorance is easy, wisdom is hard.  It might just come down to that fact.


About Common Sense…

crayon-banner  Like the Force in the Star Wars Saga common sense has a good side and a dark side and sometimes it is difficult to know which is which in any given circumstance.  Yes, there is common sense that our creator evidently gave us to be able to tell right from wrong.  This type of common sense is what the early philosophers and even Tom Paine talked about. It is something that tells us what actions to take in certain circumstances. But there is also the dark side of common sense that is in all of us. Like so many other words “common sense” seems to have almost morphed into something else today.

Simply stated, without some serious reflection I just don’t trust my common sense or anyone else’s for that matter.  Too much of what people call common sense today is really just the prejudices taught to them. In that regard I try to keep an open mind on most topics of life and just not trust my common sense.

An example of the dark side is that there are too many people around who don’t trust the “experts” but instead say they use their common sense. It happens often in areas like global warming and many other scientific matters. They say “my common sense tells me that all the global warming nonsense is just not true”. I will admit that from my  life in these seventy years I have been exposed to many different things and have retained some knowledge along the way.  But I am by no means an expert in any of them. As they say I know enough to be dangerous.

When I want to know more about an area of life I most often go to the experts.  I will admit that often times in today’s world people claim to be experts but are really  only using their common sense so to speak.  So, it takes work to just discover who you should be going to for additional knowledge. But I trust someone who has studied a given circumstance for years rather than someone who claims common sense about the issue.

Yes,  I seek out doctors and legal help with great diligence. But I also depend on experts in other areas.  I spent 5 years in a rigorous study of a segment of the spiritual community. I sought out a the views of a variety of people who knew more about it than I do.  In the end I found that the answers to my questions were with a combination of thoughts that I didn’t have going into the study.

To finish up here, I just don’t trust people who don’t trust the experts, that is the real ones,not self proclaimed, experts.  When we discount real knowledge in favor of common sense we are often just closing our minds to alternate ways of looking at something. As least that is my opinion.

Too Much Stuff….

crayon-banner  This is going to be one of my Crayon Marks/ Wise Guy posts where I show you the wisdom I have acquired in my seven decades on this earth. It is about STUFF, STUFF, and MORE STUFF.   I think you get the idea. 🙂

Being born in 1946 I was at the very head of the Baby Boom generation. I grew up in the suburbs on Indianapolis until we moved to the country during my high school years. They make, or at least made, movies about those times that have an ounce of truth but maybe not much more. All these shows treated this era as the age of happiness and a simpler time, a time of innocence that we dream to return to. But that is kind of like “making America great again” in that it is not necessary, it has always been great.

Until my mother abandoned us for greener pastures, ours was a two-income family. Dad had numerous low skill jobs during that time and Mom worked as a receptionist in a doctor’s office for a few years. Given a combination of her narscissism and a douse of senility she later claimed to be a doctor because of that experience.  But as usual I am getting off topic here.

The point of this post is that even though we were a two income family we just didn’t have nearly the amount of stuff that most people have today. When Mom left, our lifestyle went down but it didn’t change a lot as far as stuff was concerned.  Yeah, while we could still afford it we had a 1,000 square foot 3 bedroom house in the burbs but little else.  Each closet was about three feet wide and with all our clothes there was still plenty of room for more.   We didn’t have the electronic gadgets of today, no cellphones, iPads, or even calculators or transistor radios; those would all come later. I don’t remember having even a bicycle.

Fast forward to today and it seems most teenagers have enough clothes to fill all the closets in our early home. Everyone has to have their own $300 or more cellphone and update it yearly. I hate to guess what the typical allowance is now days but I am willing to bet it is MANY times more than the $0.35 that I got weekly. When kids today become 16 you must have your own car. I didn’t own a car until I graduated college. It is no longer good enough to just have a comfortable place to live. Now you MUST have an outdoor fire pit and waterfall.

If we don’t start out wanting more stuff then it is eventually drilled into us via all the cable TV shows.  Everyone has cable now right?  If folks really want to get back to the innocence of the 1950s maybe they need to shed almost all of their stuff and try living like we did in those years. Stuff can be as much a burden as a joy, especially if you have it mainly because everyone else does.

Thinking Of Us…


I love this quote, it has so much truth in our lives. After our rebellious teenage years we start thinking about our place in life.  What will we become, what do others think about us. We want to make our mark on the world in our own unique ways but still very much want to belong.

Then when we turn forty and our mid-life crisis, to whatever degree, hits us we don’t really care as much of what others think of us.  We  become more attuned to getting what we want out of life than how we are perceived by others.

Then as we gain wisdom by age sixty we finally come to realize that for the most part those “others” haven’t really been thinking of us at all. Except, maybe for immediate family they haven’t been thinking about anyone but themselves.

Then when we turn seventy we realize all the time and effort we put into this whole process was pretty much wasted and so we just do what we want without regard for others who are pretty much doing the same thing might think of us.  We don’t care that we are not dressed in the latest styles, we wear what we deem comfortable. We finally do our own thing that we dreamed of doing fifty years before…

Talking to Old People…

A big part of RJsCorner is trying to give some young people who might accidentally come across my blog some advice on life.  I know that I did not face many of your current problems. I wasn’t afraid of being replaced by a robot during my work years but I downsized due to my job going off-shore. ISIS wasn’t around but I did see thousands of my brothers killed in Vietnam. The norm for my generation was a job with the same company for thirty years and then a pension for life after 65. I know that is now totally foreign to you.

I know the circumstances are different but learning the lessons of life really haven’t changed that much so maybe you can learn a thing or two from my successes and especially my failures. I have had a lot of each in my seven decades on this earth.


I know old people just aren’t respected as much as they might have been in previous generations. My generation probably had a lot to do with that. I know that there are fewer and fewer younger people who will hold a door open for me or my wife and even fewer who will offer us their seat while waiting for a table in a restaurant. I know that respect for wisdom is on the wane.

Looking back with hindsight is much easier than looking forward so I can understand how you might feel about us old timers. But I truly believe that you could learn a few things from us in order to keep from making the same mistakes we did. Just give it a try sometime. Strike up a conversation with someone much older than yourself. I think you will be surprised with some of the lessons in life that we can teach you.

Modern Day Prophets…

“Why does Jesus want us to talk to him if he never talks back to us?”… May we empower, listen, learn and be led by this tribe of prophets. Maybe, just maybe, they will show us once again what it looks like to tangibly love God and neighbor SOURCE:  Girls: The Hope of the Future | Jon Huckins | Red Letter Christians.

The quote above came from a four-year old daughter of the author of the article. The article was mainly about the most recent announcement of a young Pakistani girl receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace. Jon Huckins thinks maybe she is a modern-day prophet who just might drag the future church into more actions and less doctrine. He holds hope for that and so do I.

Kids just don’t seem to know what is an “appropriate” question to ask. Earnest curiosity has not yet been driven out of them.  They have not yet been drummed with a strict religious doctrine that says you must believe things without question. To say that Jesus never talks to us is heresy in most Christian bodies.  But I know that I too frequently ask the same question and so did Mother Teresa during her long life of servitude to others.

We all think we would like for Jesus to come to us directly and talk to us but do we really?

Some people in many different religious circles have very different definitions of what a prophet is. Some think that prophesy ended when King Constantine put together our biblical text or maybe even before Jesus. To say that anyone who has come around since then is a prophet is simple nonsense to them But as usual I kind of have a different take on that.

Lets look at a simple non-sectarian definition of prophet:


If a prophet is “an authoritative person who divines the future” then there can certainly be prophets around us today. Even the second definition does not preclude that possibility. You could say that anyone who interprets the will of God is a prophet, even me!!

I kind of think that anyone who tries to show us a better way to God is worthy of the moniker of prophet and that certainly should include all of us.

Making The Same Mistakes Over And Over Again….

WisdomI have been in a philosophical mode lately and one of the things on my mind is the fact that in at least the last twenty years or so we just can’t seem to be able to learn from others mistakes. We seem to be locked in a mode of doing the same stupid thing over and over again. Too bad we don’t have a book with all the answers. But, of course, it would have to now be an e-book and have a robust search widget. People just don’t have the patience anymore to actually read a whole book.

One of the reasons for continually making the same mistakes is that wisdom just seems to be a forgotten thing now days. All of us old people who are looking back realize that when we were young we thought we knew it all but as we aged we realized that was far from the truth.  We learned many many lessons in life that, if we had that knowledge earlier, would have caused us to make different decisions.  That is called learning from our mistakes….

It is one thing to learn from our own mistakes but even more useful is to learn from other’s mistakes so that we don’t have to repeat the same errors in judgment. The basic problem with learning from history is that people just don’t seem to value the wisdom that comes with age anymore.  Most young people today see old people as those who lived in the dark ages before the Internet, cell phones, and instant communications. They simply can’t fathom that we might just have something to teach them about life. That we might just have some answers to their current queries.

It takes wisdom to realize that, yes the tools each generation uses continues to change but the basic questions of life remain the same. Here I am preaching about wisdom when I know that I too didn’t put much value on the wisdom of my elders. As a result I’m sure I made many mistakes in life that could have been avoided if only I had asked.  None of us have a book of answers but many of us have answers that could be put in the book for others to learn…..

Ambition in Our Senior Years??

Should we still have ambition in our senior years or is this just a time to give that up?  That is a question that has been dogging me lately. My wife, for the most part, has not had much ambition, at least by my standards, for the last twenty-five years. She is totally content to live her daily life in exactly the same very passive manner day after day. She does not see the need or desire to become involved in much of anything; she does not dream of things outside her usual daily existence.  I on the other hand can’t seem to shake still wanting to do things that make a difference in my life. She tells me I am getting weird when I mention such things.

Just what is ambition? Here is what the dictionary says it is:

Am·bi·tion   [am-bish-uhn]  Show IPA noun

1. an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor,fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment

2. the object, state, or result desired or sought after.

3. desire for work or activity; energy. verb (used with object)

4. to seek after earnestly; aspire to.

I want to have a reason for my life even, or maybe particularly, in my senior years. I am just not satisfied with lying back and letting life flow past me waiting for the end. I guess this goes back to one of Will Roger’s quotes that I posted about recently and that is success is being satisfied with your life.  Maybe I still have ambition because I am just not satisfied with what I have accomplished so far.

I realize that There are things that I have discovered in my senior years that I wish I had known much earlier in life. It probably would have changed my life path in significant ways. Too bad we can’t carry this life’s experiences and knowledge into the next one. That is assuming the a next life actually exists.

Does there come a time when ambition must go by the wayside? I just don’t know the answer to that question but I personally don’t think I will ever give up aspiring to new challenges in my life.

You Get What You Deserve…


“You end up as you deserve. In old age you must put up with the face, the friends, the health, and the children you have earned.  — Fay Weldon

The quote here could be paraphrased as “You get what you deserve..” and there is certainly some wisdom to those words. When you start approaching the end of your life and aren’t all of us doing that all the time then you end up living with the consequences of your past experiences.  Lets start out at the back end of this quote and work from there.

The children you have had are now for the most part grown up and sometimes give us grandchildren and sometimes they don’t. Another startling fact is that they will likely be the ones who determine where we end up towards the end. At some point in everyone’s life we must give up control to someone else. Often that is our children.  So where you end your life might be the result of how you raised your kids. If you bestowed upon them a life of compassion and family then you might end your life with your loved ones around you. If you alienated them or let them migrate toward selfishness then you may be in trouble.

One the health thing, I’m not sure I want to get started on this one. In our later lives we live the consequences of our earlier health decisions. I shamefully admit that for twenty-five years I was a smoker. Although I quit about twenty years ago the consequences of those years are affecting me now. The smoking and the six years in a cabinet making shop breathing in sawdust have left me with beginning stage emphysema.  The years of brutalizing my knees had come back to haunt me.  My handful of serious falls on ice, due to imbalance problems associated with my deafness, have left me with numerous compression fractions up and down my back.

On the friends issue I am afraid that we guys get the brunt of this issue. You ladies generally do a better job of this than we do. I have made several close friends in different periods of my life. But for one reason or another I have let them slip away so that now that I am in my senior years I have only a few friends who I might even remotely call “close”. I am living with the consequences of not doing the work to keep my friends close.  I envy my wife in this regard. She has several friends who she talks with monthly. She frequently gets calls from friends she made in her high school years. They have remained friends for fifty years or more.

Finally there is the face part.  I’m not so sure I follow this one to any degree. As I have said before I am often surprised at the face that is looking back at me from the mirror every morning. But I’m not sure how I deserved to get so old looking 🙂

So, Fay is right on track here. You usually end up with what you deserve….

A Re-Purposed Category…

I have been doing some investigating of what I have been posting lately and decided to re-purpose one of the blog categories.  Instead of Seniors Only you will now find Wisdom of..

I have come to realize that I really don’t have a lot of advice for other senior citizens about how to live their lives. I’m pretty much muddling along like everyone else, so I will leave the advice stuff to some of my blog friends who are much better at it that I ever was. Instead I am going to use this new category to  generally talk about quotes from fellow senior citizens; all of them much more famous than I am ;).  Most of the quotes have one and maybe all three  of the following qualities.

  • lessons for life (ie. wisdom of the ages)
  •  at least some level of humor (which I can’t go a day without)
  •  irony  of growing older and supposedly wiser.

I have collected hundreds of these types of saying so I will drag out that file and dust it off. I will be leaving the archive “Seniors Only” stuff inside this new category so that they can be referenced in the future. Since the old and new category are somewhat related it makes sense to do this.

Lately my posts seem to stray into darker waters than I generally intend so this will be a way to shed some of the murkiness and add more laughter.   We all need more laughter in our lives especially during these times.

I hope you enjoy the change….

Every Wrinkle Is A Picture….

Great artists say that the most beautiful thing in the world is a baby. Well, the next is an old lady, for every wrinkle is a picture. – Will Rogers

I guess some people are just not historians, either at the personal level or otherwise. When they begin to see a wrinkle or two on their faces they rush to a plastic surgeon. For those less affluent they make a panic trip to the drug store for the latest anti-wrinkle cream. The latest reports show that in the U.S. we spend more than $10 billion per year for Botox and the like. So many just refuse to accept the beauty of a wrinkled face.

Like my grey hair I pride myself on all the wrinkles I have. I have earned every one during my years on this earth. They make it clear that I am not some youngster who is naive in the ways of the world. I have been around and my wrinkles show you that maybe you can learn a little from what I have to say. No, that is not a picture of me in the photo here. I am not nearly as good-looking as that fellow. 🙂

I don’t know when becoming a mature person went out of favor. I certainly looked up to my grandfather even though he passed when I was about ten years old. I certainly enjoy visiting him on his pig farm and listening to all the stories he had to tell. He had a belly laugh for every time he told me to go collect the eggs and  then watched the old rooster chase me around the chicken coup. He was quite a character who I really loved.

Some cultures still show total respect for their senior members. The elderly are considered the patriarch of the family and no important decisions are made without first referring with them. But it seems that in the U.S. we now consider our aged a liability instead of an asset of knowledge and wisdom. We lament about how they are sucking up all the healthcare dollars at the expense of the rest of us. They say that the money we paid into social security was no more than an ordinary tax so we shouldn’t expect to get any of it back now that we are aged. I don’t know what happened to create this rationalization?

Irregardless of how others think I revel in my experiences, wisdom and the wrinkles that the years have given me. I am no longer jerked about by the latest fad or whim. I continue to wear what I wore two decades ago in spite of the fact that it is no longer in fashion. I don’t waste time on things that I see no value in. Call me eccentric if you want; I really don’t care. But if you care to listen I do have a thing or two to say that might help you in your passage through life.

So, Will here is to you. You got it right again. But I think I will add us guys to your quote. There is beauty in every wrinkle and each one of them is a story.

But what do I know

Wisdom… Two Varieties..

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Since these verses have so much meaning I have been inspired to visit them again. The above text comes for the third chapter of James’ letter. Unlike Paul’s many letters that were written to one particular congregation, James’ singular letter included in our modern day Bible was specifically written to Christians in general. That is it was initially written as intended doctrine not to address a particular problem found in a single church and then later applied to all.

It helps us understand that there are two kinds of wisdom in this world. One is self-centered and worldly, the other is from God.  As usual James says “walk the walk”, “actions speak louder than words”, “don’t be all talk” or any other of your favorite sayings.  When you do good deeds they must come from humility. If they are done for self-seeking reasons they are tainted from the very beginning.

Another lesson is that humility comes from wisdom. Whatever is the opposite of humility certainly does not come from wisdom but from selfish ambitions. Here are some antonyms for humility: arrogance, assertiveness, egoism,pretentiousness, pride, self-importance. Take your pick as to which might apply. Being full of yourself does not come from wisdom. James goes on to even say that pride, self-importance, and all the other descriptions comes from the devil himself!

James mentions “peace” several times in his description of heavenly wisdom. He also includes “full of mercy”. Jesus also said “blessed are the peacemakers”. Peacemakers seem to be a central part of what it means to follow Christ. Where does that leave those who think that war is the answer to all of today’s problems? Let us always look for way to make peace before immediately plunging into war….

Learning Responsibility…

I grew up in a small town in Indiana and spent my summers putting hay in farmer’s barns at ninety cents and hour. But it wasn’t until my college years that I started learning real lessons in responsibility. Dad had tried to teach me about responsibility but like most teenagers then and now I didn’t really want to know that much about it. I started my first year in college with almost enough money to get me through the first semester. Where the second semester and beyond money would come from I had no idea.

Dad was a milkman at the time and simply didn’t have any extra to give me. I had tried the scholarship and student loan route but since my mother’s then husband made so much money I officially did not qualify for a loan. It didn’t matter that Mom had abandoned us years before and just didn’t seem to be in the mood to help me out with any of my college expenses. So, for the first month or so of college I was looking around as to where I might be able to get a job to pay my college bills. A guy down the hall in my dorm worked in the dormitory cafeteria and suggested I try there. I was a very shy kid back then so it took me another week to get up the courage to go in and apply for a job as a waiter. To my surprise they actually thought I could do the job and they were willing to pay me $1.10 per hour to do it!

This was probably the first time in my life that I felt responsible for myself. Before that Dad always took care of things. It is true that I had to earn my spending money from a young age but I always knew that Dad was in control of the safety net that provided me with a home and food. At the time I really didn’t understand just how tenuous that safety net was and how many time it was almost broken. But that is another story.

By taking this job I was indirectly acknowledging that I was now responsible for my own circumstances. In order to make enough for my expenses I ended up working about forty hours per week in the kitchen and then various full time jobs in the summer. Forty hours proved to make it almost impossible to carry a full academic load so I ended up taking five instead of four years to graduate. But I did make it to that fateful day of being the first one in our family to graduate from college. Those years at college were some of the toughest times but they were also some of the most enjoyable. I didn’t have much time or money for socializing and I missed out on all the political unrest of the 60’s college campus but I did learn my lesson of responsibility that would stick with me for the rest of my life.

And the journey goes on…