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Imparting "Wisdom" A Letter Of Advice To My Graduating Nephew

Updated on September 11, 2016
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Adam Stier is a writer and editor that resides in Portland, OR. He is an established columnist and contributor to websites and publications.

There is wisdom of the head and then there is wisdom of the heart.

— Charles Dickens


My nephew recently graduated from high school and I thought it would behoove him to offer some wisdom before he pursues higher education. Wisdom is acquired by one whom as seen or been in a situation before, therefore, one becomes wise about the particular situation. I'm too young to assume I have any wisdom worth noting. However, I had forgotten to purchase a gift. This twaddle would have to suffice. So it goes.

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.

— Shakespeare

What I Think I Think

I wondered if I had any advise or wisdom to pass on has you graduated and climb the rungs of academia. I found that amusing. Me? Wisdom? Laughable! However, here's what I think I think I know so far. I think.

The Dictionary defines wisdom as having ‘knowledge of what is true or right, coupled with just judgement as to action, sagacity, prudence, or common sense’. In the distant past, wisdom was also thought of as the type of knowledge that people needed to discern the good from the bad, and live a good life. If wisdom is knowledge about living a good life, the answer I give needs to be underpinned by knowledge of just that sort. Therefore wise advise would be based on the truth; that is it would be accurate, and would recommend actions that are discriminating and prudent. However, what constitutes a good life for me may not be right for someone else. Giving, and getting, wise advice is thus fraught with difficulty.

It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.

— Aristotle

Personally, I have always found it more useful to ask advice from those who have demonstrated that they have knowledge of the area about which I am seeking an answer. For example, if I want to know anything about my mobile phone, I ask a technically inclined friend, not my elderly mother. So, here it is probably, maybe, my best advise so far:

Look for wisdom from someone who has demonstrated that they have the sort of knowledge about living well that you seek – someone whose life reflects that knowledge, or who has the education and training that would give them that knowledge.

In short; Find a reliable knowledgeable source and avoid bullshit and twaddle.

Congratulations! Best of luck!

And don't do hallucinogenics….without me.

I'm not young enough to know everything.

— J.M. Barrie


If you are wondering how my nephew responded, you will have to go on wanting. He's not the most chatty person and if he appreciated it or learned anything is unknown. However, I am sure he did take something from it. It's not much and if you're familiar with my writing you'll know anything under 2000 words is an article or blog at most. Nevertheless, I wanted to share this letter because I feel it makes a good point. When we seek new knowledge or want to acquire information on a particular subject we should be selective in our sources. While the internet is full of information, it's dubious for the most part. You almost have to research the research.

So, it's almost imperative when we pursue knowledge to obtain it from a credible and reliable source. Unless you want your mother trying to fix your cell phone.

We can only know that we know nothing, and that is the highest degree of human wisdom.

— Leo Tolstoy

Knowledge comes and wisdom lingers.

— Alfred Tennyson

© 2016 Adam Stier


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