Old Age Wisdom

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

Not everything that’s old is bad and not everything new is good.

Every day and age feels compelled to claim that it is a new, fresh start. That it did away with the ways of old. That it discarded it as if somehow broken.

Our modern world is no different. We feel as if we invented the wheel and we dismiss old wisdom with not even an afterthought. We imagine ourselves as the centre of the universe.

We reject old customs and tradition as if all was unsubstantiated superstition. We do not use reason to sift through the mountain of evidence throwing away millennia of collective knowledge. We throw away the good with the bad.

We are wrong. We are so very wrong.

Just because 100 years ago, people did not have our technology did not make them stupid or daft. Au contraire, it means they were more astute, could do complicated math in their heads, could recite poems in Latin and Ancient Greek, were capable of replicating a lot of operations performed now by machines.

They were by any definition more connected with one another, had larger brains, certainly more developed capacity for storing memories, and they were not afraid to live their lives to the fullest.

So, what is there for us to despise?! I wonder how come and why we think us superior to those who came before us?

The range of their emotions was clearly off the charts. You see, back 100, 200, 300 years ago, people were everything. There were close to no machines and those that timely appeared as man invented them, were perceived as a danger to the community. People did not rely on machines all the time. People relied on one another every moment of their lives.

The economy was based and manned by people. These were difficult times for sure. Manual labour was at the centre of industry. But people were connected in so many ways it puts our claims to superior connectivity to shame. Here’s a modern paradox. In a world as connected as ours, how come there are so many people who feel abandoned, lost, adrift and alone? Not just single, I mean alone, without a purpose, without a compass, without a sense of direction, of past or future.

Do relations have the same meaning any more? Do we care as much for the person next to us as our mother and father did in their time?

Do not get me wrong. I’m not saying that people had instant communication or the capacity to reach out to thousands at their fingertips. No, far from this; they existed in close relationships, touching one another by letters taking months or years to reach their recipients. We exist in silos, glued to our smart phones, so close to one another, yet so very far away in spirit. Paradoxically, no?

And again not all these relations were all milk and honey. Some were sour and since people display a wide range of characters, some were even worse. You see, people fall in many different categories.

People can be good, moral, and kind.

People can also be murderous, covetous and slanderous.

They can also be a combination thereof.

Our collective wisdom emerges from the myriad human interactions happening every day. The more we congregate and exchange news, feelings, emotions, thoughts, hopes and dreams, the more we are able to achieve the synergy required to formulate valid knowledge.

The more we are humane to one another, the faster we reach the critical mass required by humanity to ascend to the next level of consciousness. Progress is not a purely material proposition. No level of technology can prepare us for the future. Without our souls, we are mere mortal coils, devoid of meaning. Our ancestors had close to no technology relative to us, yet they thought in universal terms, they calculated astronomical distances using rudimentary methods. They did all this because they looked inside and discovered a burning fire that animated their animus. They had a purpose and a reason why.

So, when we dismiss all their know how as meaningless superstition, the problem lies with us. We have lost the capacity to decipher and understand information in any format that predates the current one. Is that the mature thing to do?

What is the difference then between our generation and children? We both share the feeling that we know it all. But do we now?!

And like petulant children unwilling to learn, we grow rambunctious when our forefathers reach out from beyond their graves to help guide our curious but inexperienced steps.

Marcus Tullius Cicero was perhaps one of the greatest Romans who ever lived. He said this 2,066 years ago:

To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history? – Cicero, Brutus (46 B.C.)

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