Ancient Wisdom

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Did any of you watch the Olympics? … If so, one of the things that’s hard to overlook is the age of these world-class athletes. There weren’t many 70 year-old swimmers. Or 45 year-old sprinters. Or 50 year-old gymnasts. Or 80 year-old basketball players. Or 65 year-old tennis players. Or 90 year-old …

You get the idea. It’s clear. Athletic competition is an arena primarily for the young. Yes, there are exceptions (especially in endurance sports), but most world-class athletes have not yet reached middle-age or senior adult status. They’re young.

The same is true in other areas as well. Do a little research and you’ll find that entertainers are younger and catering to a younger crowd every year. Thirty is considered “old.” Retailers target much of their advertisement to the young crowd because they have the buying power (albeit it via dad’s tender heart or mom’s generosity). Many believe that, without fully realizing it, we have begun worshipping youth.

People in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and so on are often considered irrelevant and “out of touch.” This is certainly more true in Western cultures where youth is revered. Eastern cultures still appear to respect age, but the trend toward youth worship can be seen there as well.

The islands of Palau are known for the diversity of their marine-life. The waters surrounding this archipelago are protected. The water is teeming with life. One of the unique creatures that live deep under the water in Palau is the nautilus, a curious animal. Rather odd-looking, with an incredible propulsion system. Many believe they are one of the oldest living creatures on the planet (depends on your view of creation/evolution perhaps).

While I don’t know how old they are exactly (though I believe in God’s literal creation of the planet and life in it), they certainly “look” old. They have a pre-historic look to them. As I held one in my hands underwater, I started thinking about old things, ancient things. And new things as well.

Is there something to be said for “new” for “youth?” Yes! There’s a lot to be learned. We continue to build upon the foundation of science laid over the centuries. Athletes today run faster, jump further, and perform better. Yet there’s also a place for “old”, “tested”, “tried”, “proven.”

Ancient wisdom exists. Learnings from the Psalms of David, the proverbs of Solomon, to name a couple. There are things we can learn from the Greeks, the Chinese, the Romans, and others. We can learn from the masters who lived during the Renaissance. We can learn from artists, and writers, and engineers, and farmers, and politicians, and priests, and businessmen, and scientists, and ordinary people who lived before us. By today’s standards, if you were born prior to 1990 or thereabouts, you’re old. Yet there is much to be learned from exemplars living in 1900 or 50 BC.

Please don’t discount ancient writings or history or the wisdom of the ages. There were tremendously gifted and brilliant men and women who came before us. Use your values and beliefs to filter and then build upon the collective wisdom that exits. Don’t feel the need to reinvent everything. Sometimes, and often, those who went before us had profound wisdom. They took time to think, really think, and deeply.

I am often amazed at how well some of the “old” masters understood human behavior. While scientists today have access to significantly more technical knowledge that their predecessors, I’m not at all convinced that today’s leaders understand human behavior and communication better than their counterparts of the past. What do you think?

What ancient truths do you know? What lessons have you learned from history? Which historical figures do you admire and what did they teach you?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

One thought on “Ancient Wisdom

  1. What you say is very true. But, I have been struck by an ongoing trend. If you look at the movies being produced, they are either remakes of ones that came out before the 90’s or from comic books from before the 70’s.
    It seems that for all the youth worship done in society, it is the older things that keep being brought back in to anchor them to something.

    Very good article.

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