Are we a wise civilization? Can we grow wiser? Being cynical about these questions is easy. The news shows us we are always on the brink of disaster, and, let's be honest, the comments section of most social media posts does not engender a spirit of optimism about humanity's collective wisdom. Yet, consider the following.
Emotions are a form of social communication. Laughter communicates that all is well, we are safe. Fear communicates danger--look out! Expressing the wrong emotion breeds confusion.
Wisdom is not knowing the right thing. It is doing the right thing. And it is not just doing the right thing but doing it effectively. Those we consider wise get things done.
Have you ever been frustrated with an organization of which you were a member? Have you wanted to change an ineffective process, had solutions people agreed were good, yet still failed to get the organization to implement the change?
Due to my insecurities, it struck me a bit odd that I could tell a class of twenty-year-olds to write a thirty-page report, and they would do it. I could form them into teams they did not want to work with, and I could make them stand in front of the class to give presentations despite their dread of public speaking. It was like I had this magic wand that allowed me to make people do things they hated and then thank me for it at the end of the semester.