Words on the Wise

December 17, 2017

      If you had to find three wise men in today’s world, who would you pick?
         The Biblical Magi were “from the East.” In today’s vernacular might mean someone from an Ivy League school. Somebody like former President Barack Obama who graduated from Harvard or the presidents Bush who both graduated from Yale. Or maybe we should consider a king on a whole different level, like Amazon entrepreneur Jeff Bezos who earned two degrees from Princeton: electrical engineering and computer science.
         Since the job requires following a star, maybe we should look for wise men among the top astronomers. Maybe somebody like cosmologist Stephen Hawking. His best-selling book “A Brief History of Time” is almost as mind-boggling as his ability to excel despite ALS paralysis.  Maybe we need a young, healthy astronomer like Brian Cox, a former rocker turned BBC science personality. Or maybe we need to turn to a wise woman like NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who did the trajectory analysis for astronauts like Alan Shepherd and John Glenn and was one of the characters in the movie “Hidden Figures.”.
         But isn’t wisdom more than quantum physics? King Solomon used his wisdom to make wise choices, good judgments.Assuming age brings wisdom, maybe we need somebody like 84-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the oldest judge on the US Supreme Court. Or perhaps we should rely on the wisdom of a church leader like Pope Francis who has been called upon to make all sorts of judgements lately for the Catholic Church.
         Does wisdom imply wealth? If someone were wise wouldn’t they know how to be rich? Like Mark Zukerberg who figured out how to build an international backyard fence and make billions off of our desire to gossip.
        Or should we look for the ability to communicate, to speak and write wise words? Someone like linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky who is known for stating simple truths such as “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
        Or how about Lin Manuel Miranda who figured out the right words to make an unsung hero like Alexander Hamilton  come alive for Americans of all generations and races. 
        Wise can mean many different things. There are even negative connotations like “wise guys” and “wise crack.”
         So I leave this Christmas conundrum in your hands. Post the names of three wise men living today. And have a very Merry Christmas.