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During an age of Information, accelerated technological advancements, and instant global/local communications, what does it mean to be wise? During such an era, how does a wise person think, how do they act? If they are truly wise, if they have what has come to be called Wisdom, then they have connected with their soul’s past, and the bulk of its memories. Wisdom, I believe, is unification of the soul and its history. It is not a variety of knowing, nor does it dwell in the realm of science. Between knowledge and wisdom, there is a fundamental difference.

While knowledge is an accumulation of facts, wisdom, on the other hand, is an accumulation of experience. And because of this discrepancy on which these virtues are established, it cannot be concluded that they are the same. Wisdom, then, is not knowledge or vice versa. It may, no doubt, lead to knowledge of some thing, just as knowledge of some thing, perchance, may lead to wisdom. More than anything else, to truly obtain a grip on the nature of wisdom, one must consult the eyes. It is perception, and how what is perceived is accepted, registered, and applied by the concious mind that creates wisdom.

The claim that wisdom is a unification of the soul and its past can be rephrased as: Wisdom is to see as one has “historically” seen. It is to see, and to respond (or not respond) as one’s prior selves. I use the term “selves” because there indeed is a multiple number of lives that one has experienced. It is no mistake, then, when someone encounters a genuinely wise person, they feel as if they have met someone who has existed before, prior to this life. The saying “You’ve been here before,” is applied to many a sage, who’ve shared their insights.

Now, unlike knowledge, the bulk of wisdom resides in intuition. This kind of enlightenment which, on many occasions, has resulted in a knowledge of some type comes from the world within. It is therefore rightfully called intuitive awareness. Intuitive awareness, simply, is the capacity to be aware of one’s inner self. From this ability, the opportunity for wisdom reveals itself; from this ability stems spiritual knowledge, and mankind’s understanding of the gods. Contrariwise, material awareness is knowledge sought from the world outside and, then, stored within.

Material awareness is the capacity to be aware of ones outter self. From this ability stems physical knowledge and mankind’s understanding of their environment. Ever since the dawn of the conscious mind, there have been three questions that wise men have troubled themselves about: What is life? Who am I? What am I to do? These questions have not changed, nor have they been resolved.

What is most perturbing, nonetheless, about these inquiries is that, although in the past humans sought answers to them, currently, in the present, in the midst of technological prowess, not only do humans neglect the pursuit for answers, but rather, they have altogether disregarded even asking the questions. Though if anybody approached the shores of an answer, it was our ancestors. For, back then, they had not so many distractions redirecting them from themselves. The mind and the earth, during that ancient era, was one. Yet still, today, there are no answers–not yet.

In this epoch, the nearest thing to an answer that exist are the questions themselves. For, the journey spent achieving an answer results in the flame of wisdom being, once again, refueled and ignited. If everything mankind now possesses, if all that provides life its subtle luxuries were stripped away from them, the only thing left for humans would be, in some form, those very questions: What is life? Who am I? What am I to do? Threefold, there they remain stubbornly staring mankind in the face, seeking their attention, waiting to be cracked.

Indeed, they are the golden key that unlocks the treasure box named “the human mind.” And so this brings me back to the original inquiry: during this era, how does a wise person think, how do they act? One thing that is known about the modern wise person for sure is that they will on a regular basis ask themselves the threefold question set. And they will, on a regular basis, seek out answers to them. It’s for this reason that wisdom connects the mind to its past. These inquiries are historical. And because of their historical nature, it moves the soul to a state of rememberance.

Some two thousand years ago, Plato, the Greek philosopher, thought that knowledge was recollection. According to him, already all knowledge is in us. In order to remember knowledge again, he argued, one must be interrogated using the right kind of questions. Even still, some five thousand years before Plato, the Ancient Egyptians believed that life was an illusion for which the soul experiences a finite amount of times in order to know its true self, which is God.

Here again a similar theme predating the Greeks that concerns recollection. Why did the ancients (who clearly are much wiser than their decendents) believe in reincarnation? The reasons, I’d argue, is because of their relationship with nature. They are overwhelmingly more simple than their decendents. Ancient man’s teacher is Nature. As life stared at them, they stared back. Nowadays, as life continues its glare, people look away.

And so our wiser predecessors knew the sun sets, then it rises again; in the winter, flowers die and in the spring, they are resurrected; fruits ripen then they rot, but through their seeds, they are born again. And so nature taught them that life and death is a cycle. In other words, we come, we go, we come again, and so on. Nature, currently, does not have man’s attention. Currently, what has obtained man’s undivided attention is money and technology, and the pleasures or fame or power it generates.

Since we have discussed that during this era a wise man’s thinking revolves around the threefold question set: “what is life? who am I? what am I to do?” let us discuss further what kind of actions modern wise people display. Because of Wisdom’s historical nature, in present day times, a wise person’s actions are simple. They have only one action that will sum up their wisdom, and it is this: READING! Next to thinking, Reading is one of the wisest things a human can do. In an age of information, reading is how a wise person should “act.”

Reading, I mean, only what will perpetuate one’s wisdom, and not what will destroy it. The word itself implies that to read is to do something that awakens the soul unto itself. If we look closely, we come to notice the word “Read” is actually a compound which includes a prefix and a suffix. The latter is the suffix “Ad” which means to connect. Usually this suffix is used as a prefix; and from it we create words like addition, adjacent, adhere, all of which mean, more or less, to connect.

The former is “Re” which means to do-over. From this prefix there are words like remember, recollect, or recognize, all of which mean to do some action over again. Thus the word read is more accurately pronounced Re-ad (Re-add.) To read, to re-ad, is to re-connect with ones soul. In order to remember one’s soul again, to become wise, it is vital that one re-ads knowledge to their mind so that the soul can reconnect with itself.

Once this is achieved, to the mind, the world reveals itself, and even, appears to it a bit familiar. This familiarity is a result of the soul’s unconscious connection to its history. In addition, that to act wisely nowadays means to read supports the notion that wisdom is concerned with perception. After all, reading, in some ways, uses the eyes to listen. Who knew that beyond seeing, the eyes can also hear? When a man is blind, among the other senses, he has to use his ears to see.

Who knew that beyond hearing, the ears can also see? When someone reads, they truly are “listening” to the language written on the pages. At any rate, wisdom comes in myriad shapes, sizes, and ages. It is because of reading that someone, at a young age, could achieve wisdom. For, the nature of Re-ading plunges us into a foreign experience. And the reader who has dived into this experience is destined, whether they know or not, to learn from it. Thus, the proverb that “wisdom comes with age,” through reading, can be proven wrong.

If someone can be ignorant when they are older, certainly someone can be wise when they are young. Yet still, they must live to prove their wisdom. For people who lived long lives did not live them being ignorant. And so it is clear, during this technical and informational paradise, in order to clutch Wisdom, one cannot avoid the questions: “what is life? Who am I? What am I to do?” but they must confront them with brazen courage. And further they MUST read, for this reconnects the soul to it’s past, opening up the opportunity for wisdom.

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The recent blockbuster film, The Black Panther illustrates that the proper political atmosphere for African American rejuvination is conservatism. In the film, the Black Panther is the king of Wakanda, an isolated nation in Africa that is the most technologically advanced nation on the planet.

Because of a meteorite of vibraniaum, the strongest metal known to man, that crashed there ten thousand years ago, the Wakandans were able to develop advanced weapons which, throughout their history, has allowed them to guard themselves from invasion. And which, in addition, is the result of their isolation. For ten thousand years, since their culture was never interrupted, they have enjoyed the luxury of safeguarding their way of life.

Unfortunately, however, Wakanda is a fiction. What concerns me, nonetheless, is what can be intellectually gleaned from this fiction, in such a way, that benefits us. If Wakanda, say, were one of the fifty states, here, in America, and if it maintained all of its essence in terms of its politics, despite the ninety nine percent African American population by nature it possesses, the nation would in addition be a state of black Republicans.

Because of the nation’s philosophy of preserving tradition, if it were one of the U.S. states, it would have to be. Yet, in present day America, that sounds absurd. Wakanda, herself, is more believable than to imagine an all black American state that is overwhelmingly Republican.

Before the film even dropped, if anyone had suggested such an idea they’d most certainly be laughed at. Everyone, if you are an American, knows that black people, provided they participate in the political process, are the opposites of Republicans: Democrats. Black folk are democrats–nowadays, that’s just the case. Every now and then, one may stumble upon the proper, “uncle Tom,” “Hey Bob,” type of brother that considers himself a Republican. But on average, African Americans are Democrats. And though I have not ready to hand the statistics, I am sure they support the claim.

Now, although African Americans are presently on average Democrats, this has not, historically, been the case. Up until the 1950s, African Americans were conservatives similar to their fictional Wakandan relatives. Notwithstanding the reality of their systematic oppression during those times, African Americans held their conservatism. Furthermore, during these times of conservatism are when African Americans were at their height. These are the times of the develpment of jazz music, the Harlem Renesaince, black poetry, literature, and art.

During these times, in Greenwood Oklahoma, a collection of black business men had created a thriving town, laden with supermarkets, movie theaters, hospitals, the works. After being strategically bombed burned, and razed down by the U.S Military, it would later be called Black Wall Street. It is during our historical stretch of conservatism, here, on this nation that we, as a nation ourselves, were at our best.

What, then, caused African Americans to stray away from conservative values, and to uphold liberal one’s? The first reason, I’d argue, is simple: Franklin Delano Rosevelt. This president, in the 1950s, offered African Americans a “New Deal.” And this new deal came packed with federal assistance programs, federal this, and federal that. Upon this drastic shift of ideology from conservatism to liberalism, African Americans suffered a gradual, yet steady decline economically, and, more important, socially.

Before I move to the second reason, let us ask first what exactly conservative values call for, and what liberal values call for. Conservative values, more or less, in all of its forms, seeks to preserve tradition. It tends, unless absolutely necessary, to shun change. And liberal values, of course, seek to do the opposite. It seeks to invite change. Liberalism adores freedom, with such passion, it could never tie itself down to tradition. Its tradition is freedom.

And this brings me to the second reason for African Americans flight from conservative values: the thought of freedom. To a group of people who in American history have been through chattel slavery, Jim crow laws, segregation, etc, the notion of freedom, in her grace, is no doubt an appeasing reason to side with a political faction. Oftentimes, what people forget, however, about the notion of freedom is, if humans are free, then they are not bound to notions such as good or evil, wrong or right.

True freedom means these things do not exist. No one, in other words, in their freedom, is bound to morals. And, unfortunately, it is because of freedom that the Democrats, a.k.a. the white liberals, though in those days they were called the confederate army, waged a civil war against the federal government. They, the confederate army, believed truly and deeply in their hearts that by emancipating the slaves the federal government had violated their freedom.

In their rebel hearts, they believed that they were Free to own slaves, Free to take another humans freedom. And, indeed, that is a heavy paradox. But enough of this. At any rate, further, we must inquire upon the obvious economical and social decline that appears to have been triggered by the shift in political ideologies. Because conservative values called for tradition, i.e, sticking close to ancestral values, close to ancestral wisdom, African Americans, in complying to these conservative standards, progressed substantially.

This is a period where economically they are developing strength by “conserving” money and by loaning and shopping with each other. This is a time, socially, when the Black family, church, and bank are strong and closely knit. On the contrary, because liberal values call for change, and on most occasions tend to shape shift, out of this ambiguous and unsteady structure, naturally African American institutions take a hit. The first hit is an economic one.

In liberalism, standards like saving money are rare. Rather than conserve, to be liberal with money means to spend it. And if one never saves money while they are provided an income, if they lose their income, they’ll be devastated. Devestation turns to stress; to remedy stress, it turns to drugs; to remedy losing an income, it turns to selling drugs. And, there goes the community!

The second hit is a social one. Because liberalism invites New ideas, New ways of life, and new institutions, eventually for African Americans everything is flipped upside down, and nothing is concrete. And from this stems the gradual decline of the Black family, black church, education, etc. For African Americans, in short, the same way moisture breaks through concrete, the moist freedom of liberalism broke through the concrete foundation of conservatism. And, from the looks of modern African American communities, the pothole is rapidly evolving into a dark abyss.

Although Wakanda is most certainly an attractive African Utopia, its just not real. Yet, even so, in Africa’s rich, deep history, Africans have not only been the pioneers of advanced civilizations, they have been symbols of excellence. The Egyptian civilization, some scholars have estimated, lasted for some six hundred thousand years. The Nubian , Zulu, Malian, Asante, and Dogon Empires all had a history that even back in their time of existence was considered ancient. These African nations designed the map for successful society.

For, the longevity of their cultures were preserved by their practice of devout conservatism, and maintaing the honor and integrity of their ancestors. Their decline, no doubt, is rooted in conquest, betrayal, and defeat. In addition, however, it is once these civilizations decide to change their ideas and to become liberal in their ways of life that their nations ignited decline.

And so I wonder, what if we had stayed conservatives? It is certainly the political tradition of African ancestry. Even while suffering slavery, African ancestors here on American soil remained dedicated and loyal to their traditions, to their ancestors.

What if African Americans, today, had stuck to tradition, and scarcely veered away from ancestral wisdom? Would we be similar to the fictional Wakandans? Would we be, at least, somewhat on our way there? Would our minds, would our unity, would our loyalty form a kingdom? I like to think it would. WAKANDA forever!

My Mother’s Punishment

     Once when I was a kid, on the blacktops of Idlewild Elementary, I got into a fist fight which escalated, between the 5th and 6th graders, into an all out brawl. When I was in 9th grade, at St. Benedict, I was expelled for throwing a shoe at Sister Hegel. Note, however, the shoe was initially intended for Phillip King but perhaps God, it seems, desired otherwise. After this, though she wasn’t particularly fond of public schooling, my mother enrolled me into Central High School. But even here, as soon as I was comfortable, made a couple friends, and met a few girls, back to mischievous ways I went. On top of all this, until I arrived at Central, although my conduct was poor, my grades had been exceptional. As a matter of fact, while at St. Benedict, despite my often wild behavior, I had clinched the leading role in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest. Among other things during my tenure at the religious school, I would say this to be my most admired. And it broke my heart–even though it was all my fault–getting expelled before the play finally opened. But at Central things were much more different. During class change, for instance, because the hallways were so crowded, I’d walk sideways, maneuvering my body to avoid bumping into people, or even worst, stepping on shoes. But, at St. Benedict, since the number of students was much smaller, to skip class was impossible. Every teacher–or nun–knew, more or less, were each and every student was. Central, on the other hand, having been so congested, skipping class was a piece of cake and something which I mastered. So my failure to attend class, the neglect of my mother’s ardent will for me an education, and my newly acquired infatuation in girls eventually led to the disintegration of my GPA. And one Wednesday night, when report cards came home, with a look at my grades, my mother nearly fainted. Throwing the report card to the kitchen floor, as she stood at the oven violently stirring marinara sauce, she said: “I’m finally fed up! Obviously, you care nothing for yourself, but even more you care nothing for me. Since you’ve been in school, I’ve been constantly–constantly–going and leaving–going and leaving! You act like a fool in public school so I enroll you into private school–you act like a fool here, so I put you back in public. At first, it was only your conduct and your grades were okay. This, although I know is wrong to say, I can somewhat live with. But one thing I will not have is F’s and D’s passing the doorway into this house. I GIVE UP!”

    At dinner that night my mother didn’t even look my way. She barely touched her food and afterwards, as she always tended to do whenever she was upset, stepped outside to the porch. When I was younger, during my elementary days, her stepping outside was my only chance at mercy. For once she stepped back in, the punishments always seemed lighter. Though this time, for whatever reasons, she came to my room standing at the door, as the dim hall light formed a shadow that stretched from the door to my bed, with on her face a strange smile. Now, it was rare for me to see, especially after I had angered her so, a smile from my mother. And when she finally spoke, I didn’t know what to expect. Yet, I must say, I was in for a rude awakening….

“All along, whenever you got into trouble I punished you.” she said “In elementary, if you got a pink slip, or a sad face, I spanked you, or put you in timeout. Even in middle school, if you had Saturday school, or was suspended or expelled, I grounded you and took all things you found valuable away. Yet, foolishly, I had been going about it all wrong. And sitting outside, on the porch thinking, I finally figured it out. I’ve been punishing you for all your wrong-doings when I am the one who should be punished. Maybe for spoiling you so–or maybe for any reason–but it’s all my fault that you are the way you are.”

Her words, at first, were perplexing to me and I didn’t understand how for my own actions she would punish herself. But, she explained:

“So until you finally get your act together, that is, better conduct, and only A’s and B’s, which I know you are capable of doing, I shall begin a fast.” Having been to a few Catholic schools and remembering the Nuns who fasted during Lent, I had fairly an idea of what she meant. And, to be honest, I didn’t at first take her seriously. My mother would always set forth goals and never fully accomplish them. She had once vowed to learn Spanish, ordered a bulk of expensive language learning software off the internet, and after about a week later, she gave up. She promised once to give up pork, and for a week or so, she was on a roll, only eating beef and chicken, then suddenly, she gave up. After my great Aunt passed away, she vowed to get back into church, but after a couple Sundays, she gave up. Naturally, granted my mothers history of giving up, I simply disregarded the ultimatum.

   The next day at school I skipped fourth period to hang on first lunch. I hated second lunch, all of my friends were on first, along with all of the girls worth chasing. My friends and I would lean back on the walls in the main hallway, mocking the unpopular kids, and to the best of our ability, trying to appear cool. The next day–and the days that followed– it was the same routine. After about a week or two, avoiding my mother who I hadn’t really seen; since she had been on mandatory overtime at work, I started to wonder if she’d actually went through with it. When I arrived home, she wasn’t there so I assumed she was still at work until the phone rang. On the phone was my Uncle, who was at the hospital because at work my mother blacked out. He said that she hadn’t eaten anything for a little over a week and the doctor said she was refusing any treatment. My heart sunk, as if around it someone had tied an anchor, and immediately I begged him to come pick me up.

Arriving at the hospital, my Uncle who was just as worried as I, asked why my mother would do such a thing. I didn’t have the guts to tell the truth so I simply said that I didn’t know. As soon as I entered the room I noticed instantly that my mother, who was naturally a thickset woman, had lost a substantial amount of weight. Her eyes were bloodshot red, her usually black flowing hair was dry and gray, and when I grabbed her hand, she smiled. From my eyes, like a leaking faucet, tears dropped haphazardly and I couldn’t believe I had been responsible for this. “Mother!” I said, “What are you doing? You’ll die if you keep up this nonsense. And I love you so much, I don’t know what I would do, or where I would be without you. You, mother, are my heart. Please, I’ begging you” I said, “ stop this, and EAT SOMETHING!”

“Oh, honey,” she said. “I would much rather die, and join the good Lord, than to see my only son, throw his life away. Life, anyway, is nothing but a moment spent dying and it kills me either way to watch you, with all the potential in the world, acting like one of those thuggish niggers out there.” She then began to cough fiercely, with this, I closed my eyes, wishing this all to be a dream. But it wasn’t, and sitting before me was the love of my life, dying all because of me. What was more, because she was just as stubborn as me, I knew this time, unlike all the times before, she wasn‘t giving up. What had I done? My head was pounding as though it had underwent a massive bludgeoning. I stepped out to the information desk and asked to speak with the doctor. I asked if he knew how long a person, especially one about the age of my mother, could go without eating. “She’s a strong woman, son” he said. “But I’m afraid that if she continues this for another week, or maybe two, she won’t make it. Luckily, she was already a healthy woman, so she still has a chance–at the most about three weeks–but I’m not guaranteeing anything. If I were you, young man, I’d try my best to get her to eat something.” The doctor had given me a small taste of hope.

The next day at school, I pleaded with all of my teachers for extra credit. I explained to them my situation and they were glad to assist me. Even my friends, which all adored my mother, began to work hard at bringing up their own grades. By the time the second week ended, I had made up three exams, which I aced, an essay on the Reconstruction after the Civil War, and myriad homework assignments. My mother, however, wasn’t getting any better. Until one day, around the middle of the semester, when progress reports were distributed, my friends and I rushed to the hospital. Upon entering my mothers room, she had lost so much weight my friends didn’t recognize her, and a couple of them began to weep. She was barely awake, kissing her on the forehead, she gave a small smile. “Mother” I said. “Look what I have brought you!” Showing her my progress report, I had at the time, in all my classes, straight A’s. “And not only me mother, my friends as well.” I continued. All of my friends, holding up their reports, had at the time, in all of their classes as well, straight A’s. My mother, weak as ever, laying down, tears falling down the side of her face, slowly said, “I think…..I’ll have…..a pork chop!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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