Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Absorbing the Wisdom of the Ages

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Robert A. Hunter
September 8, 2023

“I hate quotations. Tell me what YOU know,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson.

And yet his practice of using quotations of others in his own writings belies his grumpy dismissal of the sages. Perhaps that morning in 1849 was just a brief unpleasantness when he posted that entry in his journal.

Whatever the reason, I would wager that he looks down from his eternal perch with a smile of satisfaction as he observes the frequently recurring use of his thought-provoking quotations by writers, speakers and common citizens around the world.

Emerson himself exemplarily filled more than 250 composition books during his life while taking nature walks, listening to concerts, meditating or contemplating. His many rich quotations, which we use in our professional and personal lives today, were mined by him from his own notes in those journals.

It may be wise for us to follow that model in our own lives as thoughts and feelings occur to us during our work days as well as our cultural, leisure and family time. Capturing those thoughts before they fade can help us create and preserve our own personal gold mines of information and knowledge.

Now, to respond explicitly to Emerson’s challenge of “Tell me what YOU know,” I submit that each of us is a product of what we’ve absorbed from those around us. Parents, siblings, friends, teachers, colleagues, etc., all play a major role in the development of our thoughts and actions. Indeed, the readings of great authors and the words of great leaders impact us repeatedly.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have never met anyone in my life who is not superior to me in some way.”

We’re all here on this planet together. And we have the opportunity to learn from each other on a daily basis and in what might otherwise be described as common circumstances.

So what do WE know? What we know is gathered from a myriad of ongoing experiences not generated alone by ourselves.

I always listen skeptically to people who describe themselves as “self-made” men. And I’m equally suspicious of politicians who claim they have no special interests.

A good question to pose for a “self-mader” would be: “Really, no one ever taught you anything, nor assisted you in any way?”

And to the politicians: “Does this mean you belong to no faith, you are a member of no political party, you are loyal to no alma mater, you have supported no charitable cause?”

Truly, all of us are “team-made” and all of us have been influenced by or play the role of influencer in our special interests.

What we know, who we are and what we do, by in large, are the result of what we’ve gleaned from sources outside ourselves. Those diverse and ample resources, wisely applied, provide us with vast opportunities for growth and knowledge.

Growth and knowledge can be found in thought-provoking quotations. My longtime friend, Chip Morgan, and I decided to begin a series of daily emails called Keepers! which we’ve been publishing for several hundred professional associates, family members, friends and students since 2005.

It began with a young man in addiction recovery who was trying to prepare himself for responsible fatherhood prior to the birth of his first child that year. I asked him how I could help.

He said, “Maybe you could send me a little encouraging thought each day to help me keep my commitment.” Thus began the daily and growing stream of Keepers!

The venerable writer and public speaker, Zig Zigler, once remarked, “People say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Quotations of inspiration and wisdom are used by great speakers and writers. Daily meditations are used by people in addiction recovery circles and self-improvement programs. They can be found on the Internet—just a click away—on any subject imaginable. The Foundation for a Better Life posts amazing thoughts on billboards across the country and provides a daily quotation for those who subscribe. Chip and I would be happy to add anyone reading this column to our private, blind copy email list (a free service, of course). This can be requested through my email to be found at the end of this article.

Many people in professions for whom the PA Times is published, often find themselves in stressful situations. Some may find the need to seek the help of a therapist. I believe that a daily dose of encouragement and advice found in well-placed and well-timed quotations can be a healthy, therapeutic supplement in anyone’s life.

The wisdom of the ages is available for all of us to absorb. And that includes the great thoughts of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who would be proud to know that his words, and the words of other such benefactors, are a positive addition to our accumulated knowledge.

Author: Robert A. Hunter is a longtime political and nonprofit leader in Utah’s public service circles. He is currently public policy advisor to United Way of Northern Utah and teaches Leadership and Political Life at Weber State University. He may be reached at [email protected].


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

One Response to Absorbing the Wisdom of the Ages

  1. ALVAREZ Reply

    September 9, 2023 at 2:19 am

    That’s so true. A great article from the need to help and we forget too often to assist or to be assisted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *