We never quite “get it”. Trans-generational imputing of wisdom is not part of modern society. In more “traditional” societies, multi-generational families live together out of practical reasons: Not only is it less expensive if the earnings are pooled into a single resource of means, but until marriage or an offer of economic leverage pulls a member away from the core, imparting of wisdom, experience and voices of learned care may be passed down from generation to generation. In the West, instead, the rush is to depart and fracture; to get away as quickly as possible; for, as youth is the cult of modernity, so folly of youth is the means by which we live.
That was the point of alternative interactions, as well – of apprenticeships, internships and other similar ships moored to more experienced hands; but even those are now relics of an age no longer relevant. And of age – old men with decades of experience in handling matters of great complexity, shuttled away into homes smelling of antiseptic camouflaging of decay and devoid of respect or gratitude; women who once gained a stature of serene contentment, now deluged in a cauldron of impoverishment and relegated to the insignificance of lost memories. Where is wisdom’s hold upon life?
There is, in the end, no means for generational transfer of wisdom, and the wheel must be reinvented at every turn, by an ignorant and inexperienced first generation where “first” is always reenacted and “generation” is merely something to submit to have a family tree drawn in order to boast of one’s genetic predisposition towards folly and foolishness. Yet, we have come to believe that wisdom can be equated to information, and so we hand out Smartphones so that we can mindlessly look up data, soft news and questionable sources where references cannot be verified, plagiarism may be rampant, and esoteric knowledge has been forever generalized to a point of neutrality of purpose.
Where do we get wisdom? From advice columns, gurus of booksellers hinting of “secret” formulas and self-serving wanna-bees of Dear Abby. Once, wisdom’s hold on life resulted in an evolution of greater growth, as generational transfer allowed for each within the greater whole to advance beyond the elementary foundations of first principles. Now, we are solitary, isolated and disconnected.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, wisdom’s latent hold on life should not make one pause, but rather, as the dissemination of knowledge, information and guidance can be accessed through an experienced lawyer who has faced OPM many times, life need not be anticipated, but advanced beyond the folly of youth where wisdom’s hold on life is but a moment devoid of influence.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire