AWAY  WITH  WORDS

  Daniel Boland Ph. D.

 

AWAY  WITH  WORDS

 

Daniel Boland Ph. D.



Photo by Robert Phelps

 

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17 May 2024

 

Go Figure . . .


An eagerly skeptical acquaintance recently confronted me with the predictable litany of miseries to which we are heir. Finally, after tedious recitation of humanity’s collective misfortunes, he triumphantly concluded: “You cannot deny the violence and unfairness in the world, so where is your God in all this?"

His furrowed brow and frenetic delivery advised caution, so I did not mention the many blessings we receive each day nor the ubiquitous miracles of Creation (which we take for granted). But I did point out that life’s confounding mysteries do not follow rules of logic, nor does unaided Reason provide comfortable resolution to Creation’s oft-perplexing events.

Demanding tidy "answers" to Creation’s mysteries doesn’t bring satisfaction. So, I suggested, let us seek insights which enhance, rather than stymie, our limited cognitive abilities -- insights enlightened by goodly doses of Wisdom, Humility and, beyond that, Gratitude … lots of Gratitude.

Let me explain …


Mysteries Galore


Our culture values independent thinking and mastery of various skills which keep untidy ambiguity at bay. We normally resolve problems in a logical, straight-forward manner which accords with our need for order and control.

Much of the time, this approach works … but it also creates a problem: We think - erroneously - that Wisdom equates with calculated shrewdness, adroit pragmatism or canny achievement. We mistake financial savvy or the arcane know-how of tycoons for true Wisdom. The problem is that we lose sight of hope-filled mysteries which Creation proposes. We miss abundant cues to Wisdom’s insights – insights exceeding our fragile wonderment.

When Creation’s fundamental mysteries are obscured, we are distracted from life’s basic messages, deprived of respect for our limits, alienated from our Creator … and from ourselves.

We canonize “winners,” but eventually stifle our soul’s attention to life’s mysteries and to the understanding which Wisdom brings; understanding which human Reason - by itself - cannot achieve without the aid of God’s Revelation. Excessive stress on individual achievement breeds arrogance instead of Gratitude, celebrates “Self” instead of God, and estranges us from sources of transcendence within ourselves.


Mysteries ? What Mysteries ?


Look around you … We are surrounded by miraculous mysteries with origins unseen; miracles which are strikingly real (e.g., inexplicable healings at Lourdes … or each day’s sunrise).

Despite abundant evidence, many people live as if Creation’s mysteries (and our Creator) do not exist; as if there are no limits to every “right;” as if the only reality is what we control. Even the violation of sacred Traditions, annihilation of facts, betrayal of our young and the corruption of science and medicine do not deter many of us.

Many people call this “progress” … but we pay a colossal price.


Power


Safety and security are our first priorities, so we strive to control what happens to us. However, we can’t control our neighbors and we certainly do not control Nature or God. On a good day, we control only some of our own thoughts, habits, attitudes, choices and behaviors (and, sometimes, not even these). Variability is the norm, as delusion becomes reality. The inconstant is constant.

Sooner or later, despite our efforts to re-design Creation, we realize Creation is not under our control. We acknowledge (perhaps grudgingly) that God’s Power controls the mysteries of the Universe … and us, as well.

But we can adapt. We have choices. We can:


  1. live in denial, nurse our impotence, devise our own moral codes, pursue false “freedoms” and non-existent “rights,” ignore God, disregard the virtues Wisdom brings; or, we can
  2. manage ourselves wisely, learn to discipline our reactions and humbly admit that God, not us, has power in the Universe. We can honor Nature’s limits, develop insights which enlighten God’s mysteries. and exercise self-restraint for our own good and for the Common Good.

We can, in other words, develop the talents and insights of the gift of Wisdom.

Again, let me explain.


Talents ? What Talents ?


We have many abilities – talents – at our disposal, including:


  • our intellectual abilities which lead to those “aha” insights,

  • our memory, imagination and intuition,

  • our spiritual and religious sensibilities,

  • our conscience and our knowledge of good and evil,

  • our free will and our ability to make moral judgments,

  • the range and power of our emotions which act as fuel for heart and soul, for our intentions and goal-oriented behavior,

  • our desire to know and learn, fed by our curiosity, monitored by our educated conscience, nurtured by Wisdom’s transcendent virtues,

  • and more…

Our talents are to be used according to the limits God reveals to us through Creation’s countless sources. In fact, God continually reveals abundant information about His purposes and our responsibilities. He does this through Creation’s miracles and mysteries … not to baffle or confuse us, but to befriend us by appealing to our many sources of knowing and learning, of understanding and growing in Wisdom.

Our entire existence is naturally attuned to information which complements and expands upon what we learn with our many, freely-given talents.


The Point Of It All


For this are we born: To learn from God, about God. All else is secondary to the point and purpose of our lives.

Nevertheless, many people dismiss these ideals in favor of ego’s delusionary supremacy. But the gift of Wisdom (which is a Godly grace, i.e., a gift freely given) builds upon Nature rather than circumventing Nature or squashing its potential or making us subservient to indifferent karma.

Grace and Nature work together … if, that is, we cooperate!

The gift of Wisdom exerts moral influence in our lives. Wisdom is the divine voice of moral probity which, ideally, defines our two-way relationship with our Creator.

Wisdom speaks to our spiritual selves in the language of the soul rather than in the self-serving rumblings of an over-active ego. Wisdom perceives moral Truths which reside in the practical outcomes of our choices:


  • Truths which some folks try to avoid for a lifetime;

  • Truths revealing the unseemly impact of wayward pride;

  • Truths which expose the selfish gratification in our motives and behavior;

  • Truths which serve as our mature guide for moral decisions about the impact of our behavior on others;

  • Truths which inform us about the best course action for our children and young people.

At our best, Wisdom serves as the voice of divine guidance for the human condition. Wisdom is radically different from shrewd “street smarts” or deceptive social and ruinous political pressures. In fact, without Wisdom’s moral clarity, gullible people are prey to exploitation by a host of “human rights” hustlers, moral quacks and purveyors of pernicious ideologies which threaten our nation.


The Role Of Humility


Wisdom presents us with the Truth, then asks us to think and act accordingly. It is reasonable and logical – and wise – for us to rely on a Divine Source greater than ourselves. But submitting to Truth is not an easy task, even for those who are willing … and that’s where Humility plays a definitive role.

Humility is badly misunderstood, so let’s be clear about Humility’s authentic traits:


  • Humility is not thinking or acting like an inferior person.

  • Humility is realistically facing the Truth about one’s strength and weakness without becoming defensive when others speak Truth to us.

  • If confrontation with Truth hurts, Humility still listens without denying or deflecting Truth or trying to get even.

  • Humility requires strength and courage, not self-abasement.

Practical Side Of Wisdom


In our day-to-day routines, what does Wisdom look like? Here is a brief overview (reminiscent of the comments of St. James):

Wisdom shows in the goodness of those inspired by it, by their affinity for Truth and their acceptance of their fallibility. Persons inspired by Wisdom do not harbor bitterness nor seek revenge, nor do they luxuriate in vanity, nor nurture envy or selfish ambition.

They do not boast about their achievements, nor ambitiously pursue their goals nor elevate their egos at the expense of others, because they are considerate of others.

Therefore, the Wise person does not flex his/her ego nor flaunt power to humiliate others, seeing in them the image of our Creator. The wise person is sincere in his attention to others, aware of the undeserved talents with which he is blessed, mindful of empathy and altruism and the power of kindness.

  These, for starters.


Benefit Beyond Doubt


Evidence from Creation and Scripture, centuries of Tradition and the witness of history insist that God is ever with us, and that Wisdom calls for virtue in public affairs and private life, come what may.

In fact, a nation of virtuous citizens was of concern to the Founders of our Republic, who spoke of the need for virtue in governance and the electorate. They knew (as should we) that when we banish God from public life (as many Americans are doing), we banish accountability; leadership falters and decency crumbles. They understood that Wisdom works for the Common Good because Wisdom respects Truth and eschews deception and exploitation.

Nevertheless, some people remain antagonistic, rigid in their doubts, committed only to themselves. But such skepticism is incompatible with the insights which Wisdom offers; insights which augment unaided intellect and diminish unbelief … in favor of trust in God and in the “aha” messages of God’s Creation.

Wisdom deepens our two-way relationship with God, after the example of Christ. Christ taught us that, even in travail, God remains our Personal God, no matter what painful events occur, no matter how illogical these events seem.

Humanity is not angelic; perfection eludes us, and logic stumbles, but we are born to strive for a life of virtue. Wisdom and its allies (Humility, Truth, Perseverance, Faith, Kindness, Hope - to name a few) supply us with insights which clarify the point and purpose of Creation’s mysteries - the point and purpose of our lives - as we seek to govern our nation … and ourselves.



 


 

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