“Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.” Justice Felix Frankfurter
I ran across this quote again today. It always seems to show up at an opportune time, a time when I am rethinking or reassessing something. But it occurs to me that perhaps that rethinking and reassessing is (or should be) a perpetual state. There are, of course, some absolutes in life, but many thoughts and beliefs I have today I will not have (or will have the counter of) tomorrow, next year, or three, eight, thirteen, or twenty-one years from now. I know that to be true because it has been true in history and in my life. The world is not flat. Men can fly with the aid of machinery. Images and sound can be transmitted through air…..
The difficulty with tardy wisdom is not simply the tardiness. There is other fallout associated with the tardiness, with changing one’s mind (in modern political parlance, “flip-flopping”). And then, of course, pride is at play here. Wisdom often carries with it the duty to reject previously held ways of thinking and take back previous expressions offered as absolute truths.
For whatever reason, or combination of reasons, I know the urge, my urge, is almost always to resist that wisdom Frankfurter speaks of. Rarely, if ever, does someone present to me a new way of doing/seeing things and I just slap my forehead, wonder how I could have been so stupid not to have seen it before, and embrace the new thought. That is probably too much to hope for. Perhaps I can just stick with Frankfurter’s suggestion and consider that wisdom keeps no time and has no calendar.