The Evolution of Wisdom | An Excerpt from Creatively Maladjusted by Theodore Richards
We evolved into humans not because all apes evolved into humans, but because of the actions of a few at the margins. This is how novelty emerges. There is a wisdom at the margins that those in power, because they are so immersed in the worldview that supports their power, cannot possess. “There will be some fundamental assumptions,” warned the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, “which adherents of all the variant systems within each epoch unconsciously presuppose. Such assumptions appear so obvious that people do not know what they are assuming because no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them.”
In contemporary education, this requires giving value to the way those at the margins of our society see the world. Because the oppressed have not benefited from society’s norms, they can more easily see past them. Think of the creative explosion that has come from African-American culture, which has produced not only artistic innovation, but also new ideas and ways of seeing the world.
The youth play a particularly important role here. We could look at the necessity of schools as coming from the ignorance of youth, or we could also recognize that we can learn new ways of perceiving the world from our youth—as I believe most teachers have intuited, although it is rarely said aloud.
Wisdom, of course, just like evolution, is not all improvement on and rejection of the past. A genetic change that is too discordant with the past will not be passed on. For our youth to be able to put their creative energy to good use, they require the guidance of teachers, mentors, and elders. In my programs, I usually find having the students figure out a creative medium to express themselves fairly easy. The youth want to express themselves and want to be heard. Left to their own devices, however, the students usually would come up with something they have seen or heard on television because, the reader will recall, the television creates their narratives, and because this is what they think will impress their peers. Our youth need elders who can give them the courage to go beyond these narratives, to leave the forest behind.
Look for Creatively Maladjusted March 9th on Amazon.com, B&N and right here, in the Hiraeth Press bookstore.
Creatively Maladjusted will also be available in Kindle Edition! Along with Theodore Richards’ award-winning book Cosmosophia: Cosmology, Mysticism and the Birth of a New Myth!