Sunday, September 5, 2021

Dear Dave: What is the role of the wise elder in our contemporary, digital age?

 Dear Dave:

What is the role for the wise elder in our contemporary, digital age?

Thanks for your consideration and attention,


Dear Jerimiah


The question you ask has always been important for societies, but it is especially important in our contemporary age when the world faces such challenging circumstances.


There is a model of epistemology that teaches there are three kinds of knowledge: knowing what, knowing how to, and knowing what is wanted for people. Knowing what is ontology. Knowing how to is technology or some call it pragmatics,  and knowing what is wanted for people is values. It is this third area where the role for the wise elder is the most beneficial. It is the wisdom accumulated over the years of experience in being able to discern bullshit from what really matters. 


As Osho taught, there is a difference between growing old and growing up. Ken Wilber teaches the same idea. Unitarian Universalists affirm and promote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Where is this search to take place, and when, and how? It is the role of the wise elder to inform, guide, mentor, encourage, and point to resources.


Does Unitarian Universalism have anything unique to offer? 


It does. What UU offers is its encouragement to turn to the six sources for perennial wisdom. Unitarian Universalism is unique in its worldcentric view which is moving currently to integral. 


However, only a very small percentage of UUs and the earth’s population have yet to develop  an integral view. But there are a few. Look for them. They are around. A good place to start is right here on UU A Way Of Life. Other sources are the work of Ken Wilber, Steve McIntosh, Charles M. Johnston, and a few others. Currently, there are a few wise elders in UU, but they are few and far between and don’t seem to be playing significant roles in the UUA.


Are there wise elders that you look to for education, inspiration, encouragement, and guidance?


Keep the faith moving forward.




David Markham

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