Does it bother anyone else that wisdom – the kind of wisdom traditionally stolen by a cocky young traveler (with blood, sweat and guile) from an old, bearded sage sitting astride an impossibly high mountain – has become a twenty-first century commodity? Easy insight for the fast food age without the hassle of experience, understanding or learning. People want wisdom and they want it now, without actually working for it. Which is how things like self help books and new age gurus and talk shows were born – where you can the benefit from someone else’s so-called wisdom. Except that in most cases the people pandering their pseudo Oprah-style philosophies are hardly ever the modern equivalent of an old guy on a hill. They’re more interested in bite sized nuggets of repackaged common sense that they can sell to unsuspecting masses. Like: if you want something, go and get it. Or if you want to be happy, all you have to do is decide to be happy. Or if you’re unhappy, change the things in your life making you so unhappy. It is exactly these kinds of obvious sound bites that have made The Secret and Eat, Pray, Love so incomprehensibly successful and has forced me to ask the question: can people really be that naïve? I suppose it’s the same kind of mentality that responds to those silly inspirational quotes on sugar packets. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Wait, what? Let’s try again: “Before you say anything, ask yourself, is it kind, is it wise, is it true?” And again: “Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” And once more, with feeling: “Believe as though you are, and you will be.” Well thank you, Captain Obvious. That wasn’t useful or funny or particularly clever. In fact, what the hell does that even mean? And there it is: cheap, easy wisdom; advice on the back of a sugar packet. Seriously? Here’s the deal: to my mind, wisdom needs to be earned. Wisdom is the result of knowledge gained via experience. There is no form of wisdom that could be – or should be – instant. This, when you think about it, is what the old guy on the mountain ultimately ends up teaching the cocky young traveler anyway. Has no one learnt anything from Yoda? In other news, this is the last edition for a few weeks, what with public holidays and the October break coming up. Hopefully we have enough in this week’s edition to sate your ever-present thirst for campus news until we return for our last few editions of the year in October. If not, keep an eye on the website and Twitter. Enjoy the little holiday you have.
If you’re happy and you know it …