Look at this picture.
Even when we humans seemingly criticize ourselves we flatter ourselves.
Sure, the information lava-river is clear to see, but far from all are “drowning”. Many are swimming, with seeming enjoyment. Especially the younger generation, born into the world clutching a multifunctional iPhone, might feel totally lost without the ocean of information, like fish on dry land.
As to starving and hungering for wisdom, well, in my life I’ve had more opportunities for meeting wisdom seekers than most. And I must search my memory real hard for people who hunger for wisdom. Wisdom, or rather philosophy (not the same thing) can be interesting and fun, to read about, think about and discuss, but hunger for wisdom is a rarity.
Implying that we hunger for it is a flattering untruth. One of many.
The biggest lie is of course our name. Homo sapiens, wise man! No kidding? It was Linneus who gave us this name, and if we want to really walk the talk we should renounce it, abdicate from the undeserved throne.
The good news is that such an act would INSTANTLY make us wiser (and more deserving of the name).
But when did man say “no” to flattery?
Hillary: “We [the USA] are great because we are good”. Who will scream “No, we ain’t! But we can become BETTER if we really try…” ?
And of course WE have not gone to the moon, invented penicillin, conquered space, or figured out the DNA code. Individuals, small groups and bunch of nerds did that kind of thing.
Lone wolfs toil, sweat, create, write poetry, seek wisdom — whereupon the rest of us, the pack, take credit for it — in the unholy name of WE.
I could have stopped here, in a mood of rather bitter criticism. But it behoves me to go on and be more than a critic; a pathfinder.
Is there a path with heart here? I believe so.
All the pretensions and the chauvinistic make-believe of WE (did this and that) could be counteracted with something both simple and radical. Honesty.
All the energy we put into our Truth Games could be re-channeled and diverted into the river of Honesty. We study for truth, think for truth, fight for truth, kill for truth, but we don’t fight and kill for honesty.
Because there is no enemy in that war. We just have to come to terms with what we say and admit, and not.
When thinking of honesty — being able to say “I don’t really know what I am talking about, but it sure sounded great, didn’t it…? ” or “Of course I am not as perfect as it looks, hope you didn’t believe that?” or “Sorry for being so damned cock-sure and talking like I had all the answers… while actually I am TOTALLY confused!?!” — I see in front of me a wonderful garden protected by scary, fearful monsters. When you get closer you see that they are made of papier mâché, but you have to get real close for that.
If you keep your distance you will keep believing that the garden is a monstrous place, a nightmare palace filled with Freddies and Draculas and Werewolves.
Probably distance creates this optical illusion. The idea that we should or even could be honest, as a normal state, is so far from us, so foreign and strange that we don’t really let it come near us. Even less do we approach it ourselves.
I am not necessary talking of so called radical honesty. Honesty is enough, is good enough. After the first shock of confronting the monsters at the gate, and seeing that they are meant as tests of courage and mean no harm, we might start to enjoy this pretension-free place. We could put down our weapons, put aside our image management, our image laundering, and simply say:
I am what I am, no less, no more. It needs not defending. I didn’t go to the Moon and I didn’t split the atom. I’m not even interested in philosophy. Happily some people are.
Then we could leave our pretentious claims and our Truth Wars behind us and be on a peacepath.
We would come closer to being Homo Sapiens.