2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: 435
British journalist Miles Kington purportedly said “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” That probably defines the difference between knowledge and wisdom as well as can be done. But how does one obtain wisdom? Mentoring by us older folk “who have been there” is one of the best ways. One time when I was presiding in Juvenile Court I encountered a grandmother who deemed it to be an act of love to teach her 14 year-old grandson how to shoplift a jacket from a Target store. What kind of a life would we expect that young fellow to live? But parents, athletic coaches, boy and girl scout leaders, teachers, and all of the rest of us can help get this critically important job done, and done right. For example, often during our Peer Court hearings, which addressed real life juvenile delinquency cases, I would ask the high school subjects to close their eyes and think about their three best friends. They would not have to tell us who they are, but do you have them in mind? So now tell me, I would say, do you think they will be successful in their lives in ten years? No? Well, don’t you understand that if you hang out with “friends” who ditch school, smoke marijuana, and talk back to their teachers, and who will not be successful, you will probably follow in their same path? So let me tell you a secret: “You show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” Not only would the subjects listen and learn from this lesson, but the six to eight jurors would be listening as well, in addition to about 50 other students in the audience. So that was some real bang for the buck in mentoring. . . .
How else can we plant seeds to sprout wisdom to counter social media and peer influence in our young people’s world today? One approach comes from an article in the September 13-19, 2023 edition of The Epoch Times authored by Jeff Minick entitled “How to Encourage Wisdom in Our Children.” It says that we can encourage our young people to read the classics: Aesop’s fables, Anne of Green Gables’ stories, age-appropriate biographies of figures such as George Washington, Amelia Earhart and Theodore Roosevelt, the novels of Jane Austen and the plays of Shakespeare, all of which “will offer a wealth of lessons that help sharpen judgment.” But there is also no substitute for us! You and me! We frequently come upon situations in which we can simply ask questions to these young people that will encourage them to contemplate who they really are, and who they would like to be. And talk about gratification? Contributing like this really feels good! Finally, the article suggests that we teach “The Art of the Pause” which instructs that, when confronted with a problem, step back and consider the choices and outcomes before acting on a decision. We can also engage in “Guided Failure,” which means that we should not protect our young people from falling down on occasion, and then getting back up, realizing what they did wrong, and continuing on a better course. And, probably most importantly, in our setting forth real life examples of character strength and kindness that our young people can observe and reflect upon. Because, when it comes down to it, that is what our lives should be about.
Quote for the week: President John Adams famously wrote on November 1, 1800 as he and his great wife Abigail were the first to move into the White House: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”
Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President