"Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow."
Reflection by Kenneth L. Samuel
We know all the quips that vaunt the value of our experience and veteran status: "I've been around the block a few times." "This isn't my first time at the rodeo." "I didn't just get off the boat, you know!" And of course, the ever-pervasive: "I wasn't born yesterday!"
These statements carry certain assumptions about the nature of wisdom and human progress. Wisdom is usually regarded as a product of longevity and associated with old age and antiquity. But maybe the babies that were born yesterday have more to offer us than a sentimental sense of pristine innocence. Jesus must've had those born yesterday in mind when he told his disciples that "a child shall lead them." And surely those born only yesterday have something to do with the fact that the metaphor for Christian conversion is a New Birth.
Those born yesterday haven't learned how to waste time yet. They insist on being fully present and completely immersed in the cares and cries of life every moment of every day. They take nothing for granted, because they have a keen sense of how fragile and how fleeting life really is. So they seize the day and offer the veterans among us, not so much instruction and information about life, but openness and passion for life.
The true wisdom of the ages is not information about life; it's the inspiration to live. The great American poet, T.S. Eliot expressed it this way:
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
Our nation is over 200 years old, and the span of recorded human history is roughly 5,000 years. Yet, according to former President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative, humans are just beginning to comprehensively harness green energy; just beginning to fully embrace women's equality; and just beginning to earnestly employ the advances in technology to connect with and to care for the millions around the globe who are living in extreme poverty under extremist regimes.
Small wonder. The people who are really making the meaningful differences in the world today were only born yesterday.
God of ancient wisdom and new beginnings, Teach us how to live again today, for the first time. Amen.