Hunting for wisdom necessitates seeking an understanding of what is true, and what truth is. Truth is most often a subjective conclusion rather than an absolute reality. For instance, the old adage “one person’s trash is another’s treasure” is very often, but not always, true. Let’s look at that adage briefly. First, however, let’s talk about why we would want to take that look.
Truth is not absolute
If we seek wisdom, we must understand what truth really is
Wisdom literature, proverbs, wise sayings, all of these things are packed with information that can be applied in a more general sense. This adage is a proverb of sorts; it is wisdom. Wise sayings are not always true and the task of those who would be wise is to know their own foolishness in trying to determine what is true and good and right and beneficial.
Certain facts provide objective evidence that is correct, and we call that correctness truth. Answers to questions like “What is your date of birth?” – these facts are absolute, albeit that birth date may need to come with a time zone. Quite often, however, “facts” are “findings of fact” which is a conclusion reached based on objective evidence. Smoking, and now alcohol, is bad for you, for instance. While the evidence is objective, the accumulation of evidence and conclusions drawn in findings of fact are always subjective and subject to challenge with more or different objective data. That’s the basis for many an appeal to a guilty verdict. This is important in our daily lives, especially when we review the claims of this or that remedy offered on advertisement.
One person’s trash is another’s treasure
When I discard something it is generally because I no longer have a need for that item or because it has served its purpose and is not suitable for additional utilization; it is used up – it is trash.
When someone else with a different perspective sees the item that I’ve discarded and finds a use or value for that item, it is no longer trash. They pick it up and it has become a valuable commodity or a tool or some other goody – it is treasure.
Therefore, in this example, and many others, the same object at the same time in the same condition can simultaneously be described as trash and treasure depending on one’s subjective, use based, view of that object. So when someone describes this object as being trash, has that person lied? Certainly not! And when someone else describes it as treasure, is that person a liar? Certainly not! When it comes to descriptive terms, such as trash or even the concept of a lie or the different concept of a falsehood, things are not a matter of a logic diagram. No, they are a matter of perspective and knowledge of the individual making statements and drawing conclusions.
Now, the jump. There is always a jump from wisdom literature – the jump to applicability. Wisdom is not a matter of intellectual prowess, no, it is a matter of understanding why the way things are and how to apply that information to the benefit self and others, usually with a view towards the long term.
Are you tempted to categorize people, your sister and brother human beings, as trash or treasure? I know that I am. Yet, I am convinced that each human has the capability, the inherent nature, to be a treasure to someone, and it is our role as fellow humans to see to providing the opportunities for this to blossom. That’s real wisdom.
Yes, indeed, there are malefactors among us. Yes, we must be cautious and protective of each other. But how many humans will we throw out as trash in the process? How many lives will our subjective judgement of what may or may not happen in the future destroy?
Think about it.