“Therefore we ought to attend to the undemonstrated sayings and opinions of experienced and older people or of people of practical wisdom not less than to demonstrations; for because experience has given them their eye, they see aright.” – Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics
While age and experience are certainly no guarantee of wisdom, it can at least be argued that no one can be wise without age and experience. At the same time that we are growing hungrier and hungrier for information, we seem to have lost our taste for wisdom – and this has led us to undervalue those most likely to be in possession of wisdom. Thus, the challenge I give you is as follows:
1. Find a person over the age of 60 whom you respect and admire – someone whom it might even be accurate to describe as “wise.”
2. Spend at least an hour with this person, preferably over a couple of meetings (yes, over the phone will be fine, if you must…)
3. During the course of your conversation, try to glean some wisdom from him or her. Try doing this by asking questions of the following type:
General Questions:
— “What do you think is generally over valued today?”
— “What in your view is the obstacle that most prevents young adults from finding true happiness?” — Other general questions you might want to ask (write them out ahead of time to ask this
Specific Questions:
— “What was one of the most life-changing decisions you have made in your life, and how did you make the decision, and would you make the same decision if you could go back and be faced with the same decision.”
— “I’m trying to decide what to do in this situation:_____________________. What would you do if you were in this situation?”
— “I’m having a difficult time with______________________. What would you do if you were faced with this?”
— Other specific questions you might want to ask (write them out ahead of time to ask this
4. Type up a1- 2 page summary of your conversation along with your assessment of the experience. Please start with a short biography of the person (1 paragraph or so…). Was it worth the time spent? Would you find it worthwhile spending time doing something like this in the future?
You will be graded on the quality of your written report and the depth of analysis of your experience.
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