Respectability is the currency of the establishment
A religion of red carpets and relics
Propriety is its only denomination
Holding sway with all that moves
Trafficking in status
A multitude of sins covered in fine veneers
Indulgences purchased by another’s blood
Endless memorials to the dead
Crass facades for the living
Taken by mausoleums
As easy cache for what remains
Bequeathing scant prospects
Save those certifiable
Conventional wisdom is, well, conventional. Wisdom, however, exceeds the merely conventional. A fuller wisdom operates at a transcendent level, more than triangulating conventional wisdom in ever finer ways, with ever more data collection and ever better statistical models. Wisdom sees beyond conventional wisdom, beyond mere facts, beyond mere statistics. Wisdom sees beyond. Respectability and status are the conventional ways to “succeed” in a given culture, intently focusing on existing landmarks or maps, and taking advantage of existing power structures. A higher wisdom envisions new and better conditions and ways of being, and works in a way that transforms power structures to be fairer and more accessible by all, not merely privileged classes. Most simply put, and perhaps most radically, true wisdom seeks a new and better world for all, for more. Conventional wisdom settles for adroitly manipulating current realities to harness the status quo to one’s in-group’s advantage. Generally, this is called winning or succeeding. True wisdom necessarily crosses the boundaries of current conventional thinking and the status quo. This is dangerous as it pioneers new territory, crossing the powers that be. Nevertheless, such wise living is powered by the faith of fuller living and the hope of things to come.
This poem strikes at the lack of heart of conventional wisdom. Still, this poem is not intended to negate conventionality, but rather to breathe life into, to give it heart. True wisdom functions at a higher level, recognizing a higher order. This brings order, or perhaps more aptly put, harmony. The higher orders the lower. Otherwise, we will live backwards lives, necessarily disordered. Without hearts overflowing into the faith and hope of a better reality, life stagnates. By only mastering what is, we confine ourselves, and others, by voting for hopelessness, not putting faith in the possibility of betterment for all. There is probably nothing more dangerous to life’s vitality than hopelessness. Such cynicism is a form of death. Cynics, who often prefer to be called realists, may memorialize the dead but settle for building crass facades for the living on foundations purchased with the blood of others.
Like the eminent physicist and less well-known mystic, Niels Bohr said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” There is at least one thing certain: there is no mathematical model that can predict the future merely from the present. If you try to predict the future based solely on the mountain of past facts and thin present, then you will be certainly wrong! It’s time to start living in the future, not the past! It’s time to start living into the fullness of life that is our present! Our present state can be taken as unbearably thin somehow requiring us to accept only this emaciated reality; or, our present state can be taken as a launchpad of our robust hopes and generous dreams. Life invites us to more, ever more. The cynic may be right on occasion, as all of our hopes and dreams do not come to pass. Nevertheless, wise and hopeful people cannot deny their hopes and dreams regardless of the probability of being right that the world is wrong, in knead of betterment. Cynics are destined to be right in certain ways and wrong in ways they cannot predict. Either way, they are predictably less happy. The wise are destined to be right in some ways, the ways that right the world. Any way, they predictably have greater happiness.
The wise bring hope, a dangerous hope, that invites us into a better future. The possibilities are endless and somewhat less certain. Hope is a game that must be played in order to be won. More often than not, the odds are favored, and when not, rock on, leading in the light of possibilities more than cowering before dark probabilities. The cynics vainly attempt to follow an even path that cannot be the future. Cynics invite the danger of no hope. And all of the difference lies in certifiability…