If wisdom is defined as “the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment”, then the application of appropriate experience and knowledge should become a way of life.
And what about “freedom”, which is defined as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint” or as “the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved”?
In today’s world, we do not have absolute freedom anywhere, but we do have some measured levels of freedom in some parts of the world today.
One needs a deep reflection in order to pinpoint some of the benefits derivable from applying wisdom in the exercise of the freedom we have in those parts of the world today where an appreciable level of freedom rules.
Wisdom in the freedom to fail and not feel like a failure
The first one is the wisdom in the freedom to fail and not feel like a failure; to fail and not faint. In some jurisdictions where failure is intertwined with family honor, wisdom has already being sacrificed since failure has been wrongly defined.
Failure is supposed to measure the level of success, and should in fact be a resource for improvement. Although Thomas Edison was reported to have tried and failed over a thousand times while working on the discovery of electric light bulb, he did not see the attempts as failure but as a learning experience.
He knew he has the freedom to fail without being a failure, so he never failed or fainted. He was just exercising his wisdom in freedom.
Wisdom in the freedom to disappoint and yet not be disappointed
The second point is the wisdom in the freedom to disappoint and yet not be disappointed. Disappointment to some people is irreparable. Some see it as unforgivable. This is usually due to the importance we attach to certain things.
However, when we recognize the limitations of the person that disappointed, particularly in terms of the person’s mortality and limitedness, we will be quick to forgive and overlook offence.
As human beings, we give some fellow human beings so much credit as if they are super-human. The wisdom in freedom will open our eyes to the stark reality that no human is beyond committing error.
Human beings are born and bound to make mistakes. This may have led to Alexander Pope’s statement, “to err is human, and to forgive, divine”. Yes, we all have the freedom to disappoint and not be disappointed – and we can forgive ourselves easily without beating oneself unnecessarily.
Wisdom in the freedom to have a disability without being disabled
The wisdom in the freedom to have a disability without being disabled is the third one here. As human beings, we learnt in life that when people know our weaknesses, they will either reject us or look down on us.
However, the wisdom in the freedom to display our disability without feeling or being disabled focuses on one important word – confidence in oneself. As long as we have confidence in who we are, our disability cannot disable us. We can only be disabled when we doubt our gifts.
A disability in an area does not nullify the gifts of that same person in other areas. Wisdom will help that person utilize the freedom in discovering and showcasing other gifts and talents in other areas.
Wisdom will remind us that we cannot be stopped by a disability, and that the only person that can stop someone will be that person alone.
Wisdom in the freedom to try without fearing failure
The fourth one is the wisdom in the freedom to try without fearing failure. When little birds are trying to fly, they apparently had no fear of failure. In fact, they may not even know failure. The only thing they knew was constant trying. He who fails to try has already failed as a result of fear of failure.
To conquer the fear of failure is to be willing and ready to try something new, different or unique. It could take days or weeks or months or even years, but try, one must. This may have warranted the saying that there is no harm in trying.
Wisdom in the freedom to cry without the weight of being labeled a weakling
The fifth here is the wisdom embedded in the freedom to cry without the weight of being labeled a weakling. In deeply traditional cultures where men don’t cry, or where those that cried were perceived as weaklings, the milk of human kindness will be sacrificed, and robots created out of humans.
However, when human beings are allowed to be human, including the human display of emotional qualities, a more balanced human beings are reproduced – leading to a more humane society. When humans are forced to suspend their humanity, a mechanical, heartless, insensitive, and callous society is inadvertently created.
Wisdom in the freedom to lose without losing face or becoming a loser
The sixth point is wisdom in the freedom to lose without losing face or becoming a loser. We live in a world where we are commanded to win at all costs.
Losing is not supposed to be a taboo – it is just the flip side of winning, and the saying that ‘you win some, you lose some’ should be one’s guiding principle. If we understand the wisdom behind the freedom to lose without losing face, we will realize that the one who lost yesterday can win today.
Anyone that wins today should expect the possibility of losing tomorrow. Whenever there is a winner, there is a high probability that there could be a loser. However, it is not written anywhere that once a loser will always be a loser.
We have seen many World Boxing Champions beaten, only to regain the belt again. Wisdom dictates that life is like a swing – never constant, but ever oscillating!
Wisdom in the freedom to disagree without being disagreeable
Seventh, there is wisdom in the freedom to disagree without being disagreeable. Any family, organization, or society where people are not allowed to disagree and thereafter agree, is not safe.
It is very beneficial to disagree and then sit together to know how, where, and why we see things from different perspectives. This is the only approach to build a great relationship, home, organization, and indeed, a productive and peaceful world.
Whenever disagreement is disallowed, or seen as rebellion, we have automatically shut down the possibility of a robust discussion on an issue, and in doing so, we eliminate the multitude of wise counsel on an issue.
Wisdom dictates that the only way we can have a great idea with little or no serious drawbacks is when we give room for an atmosphere of disagreement that will never lead to disagreeable people. This is when wisdom forced everyone to focus on the issue and not on distractions, pride or personal gain.
Wisdom in the freedom to surrender without necessarily going under
This eighth point has something to do with ‘contentment’. Some people will dare to die if they are unable to hold on to something, they hold dear.
Some have died fighting over mere properties. Others died fighting over power and positions. Few remembered that we came into this world with nothing, and that one day, we will leave with nothing.
Therefore, there is wisdom in the freedom to surrender without necessarily going under. We can surrender our rights in order to build an enduring world order.
We can surrender our property in order to bless others. We can surrender our privileges in order to help the less-privileged. When we surrender our lives to accomplish something great for the society, we will never go under.
Wisdom in the freedom to laugh at our silly mistakes without becoming a laughing stock
This ninth one has to do with ‘perspective’. There is a great wisdom in the freedom to laugh at our silly mistakes without becoming a laughing stock.
It teaches us about how to use our sense of humor to nullify confusion, avoid distraction, and eliminate commotion. The power to laugh at and over our mistakes saves us from wasting undue energy on frivolities.
Wisdom in the freedom to break under heavy intense pain without becoming irreparable
The tenth point is the wisdom we have in the freedom to break under heavy intense pain without becoming irreparable.
One doesn’t need to lose a finger, an eye or a leg in order to prove toughness. When one is in pain, it is okay to cry out for help, and to seek assistance before the case is completely out of control.
Wisdom in the freedom to say “NO” without being perceived as cold-blooded or insensitive
This eleventh point has been a huge problem for many – they just cannot say “No” to people. However, there is great wisdom in the freedom to say “NO” without being perceived as cold-blooded or insensitive.
Saying “NO” protects. Saying “NO” sets positive boundaries. Saying “NO” confirms that one needs rest, and that we cannot satisfy everyone.
People who do not know how to say “NO” are the ones that are easily overwhelmed, over-spent, over-stretched, and eventually, completely burnt-out!
Wisdom in the freedom to concede without conceding the joy and the earned respect of gallantry
Finally, there is wisdom in the freedom to concede without conceding the joy and the earned respect of gallantry.
Some concessions will even earn you more respect than a victory speech. When we concede some divisive arguments, particularly with someone we cherish and respect, we are only doubling our joy as well as our earned respect.
Champions can only be shot to stardom, neither by a stupid random act of martyrdom or by any accidental seldom work or talk, but only by the application of wisdom in the expression of freedom, whether within a kingdom or in a fiefdom, and without being overwhelmed by boredom.
(❚ Dr. Sunday Akin Olukoju is the Director of Distance Education of Providence Theological Seminary, a community newspaper correspondent, and the president of a community organization)