Back around 2003, I began to try to take my love of quotations (those that represent values, wisdom and ethics) and create a way of organizing, sharing, and touting them. I had a stack of quotations sitting in a folder (an actual foldable folder, for paper) and couldn’t find the one I was looking for (it was a quote about honor). I began to type them into a Word document, and the rest is history! This blog is about what Values of the Wise means, how it came about, and what it is good for. I hope by the end, you will see (and hopefully appreciate) my love of values, wisdom and ethics.
I want to make a difference. The world needs all the help it can get. I feel that if I don the tunic of a life of value, then I am truly playing for the right team. If God exists, and rewards virtue, hopefully I will find Nirvana; if not, I can be proud of what I was able to accomplish on this planet, and that will at least lessen my guilt on my deathbed.
It is fulfilling to pursue humanity’s highest aspirations with my time, and I am benefiting, but there is a ghost of a chance that others are affected enough to make a difference in them, and in the world. I rarely hear from anyone what they thought about a particular blog, or a book I published, or even what they themselves think about values, wisdom and ethics. Often I am just following my North Star, trying not to focus on whether folks do (or will) like what I am doing. Such is the way of the artist.
The world doesn’t need another attorney. However, a vast catalog of quotes, thoughts, proverbs and statements about values and virtues (what I call The Wisdom Archive, which is basically an outstanding quote database) in an accessible format is a great addition to the tumultuous and ever-changing world.
Indeed, trying to make a difference makes me feel good about myself, and I believe it is my self-determined duty to do as much good as possible. Mohandas Gandhi urged his fellow human beings to be the change they wish to see in the world. I take immense satisfaction in knowing that by doing this work with my mind and my time, I am honoring Gandhi and others who strived, often in vain, to become the maximum that they could. I am no Martin Luther King or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but at least I can read them, absorb some of their insights and virtues, and make them a bit more available to the world. In this era of social media and the 24-hour news cycle and politicians and priests run amok, a pristine source of (free, ad-free) values, wisdom and ethics is a valuable thing.
I want to make my family proud, to be my best in front of them. My dad failed to meet his vast potential; he was a good example to the young me at times, and a tragic character during other moments of my youth. He was often not very happy or functional, and the degree to which he helped or loved others was often hardly-measurable; not befitting a man of his capabilities. My father passed away last year, but I know he was proud of me back in 2015-2016, when he was more lucid.
My mother would feel best about her life if I succeed; we had a strained relationship for much of my life, and she, and I of course, have regrets about that. We both lost time. She has her act together now, and is often worthy of much respect and admiration (from me as well as all the people whose lives she touches). She wants few things more than to see me happy, and making a moral and creative impression on the planet. I want her to be proud of me. Also, I want my sister to look up to me, to be closer, to earn her respect. She used to long to just be in my presence, as I am six years her elder. But years spent apart, and the way life tends to be, eroded some of that feeling. I wish to glow in her eyes once again.
Values, wisdom and ethics helped to guide me in a precarious world and during times of tenuous family and existential support. I lost God as eleven-year-old; I went to the temple to talk to the Rabbi about whether God existed, and how this Jesus, whom my society venerated, figured into the picture. I received no satisfactory answers. And my search has been inconclusive since.
My family was a mixed bag for me growing up, which resulted in my parents’ divorce at age 15. My father was depressed since, and there were few supports. I was on my own, by and large. Painfully so at times; humans aren’t meant to live solitary existences. Defining and pursuing values of the wise were ways to find meaning and fulfillment again. As Jan Phillips put it, “Socrates saved you.”
Strength was power. Wisdom eased suffering. Creativity provided solace. Honor engendered pride.
At age 25, I carved my “aspirations,” translated into Latin and arranged in a beautiful graphic design, into my back. Black and shockingly large. Today, my tattoos symbolize my desire to force myself to grow, to become. Philosophy provided a way for me to figure myself and the world out, to some degree. At least it gave me what I felt was my best chance. Truth and wisdom are the goals of philosophy, and that was at times like a salve for my wounds.
My education, my strengths, and the benefits that luck or the universe provided helped me to arrive at this, my “life’s work.” I am uniquely qualified to do this.
My strengths are:
- The fusion of philosophy with psychology
- A deep, humanistic desire to see humanity progress into what I believe it can achieve
- A remarkable dedication to reading, copying, and publishing evidence for the values of the wise
- The fruits of my quotations on values, wisdom and ethics: the outstanding quote database entitled The Wisdom Archive
- My love of writing as an artistic medium
- A willingness to put my money where my mouth is: I have spent thousands of dollars on VOW
I am not the first person to think of values, or utilizing quotations to extol them. Many wonderful and magnanimous persons came before me, leaving footprints in the sands of time. But now is my time. Today is a momentous time. And I spend my money and do my very best to “move the ball down the field,” so to speak.
Having a blueprint for how one wants to live one’s life, and putting one’s values first, makes a big difference. What would some of history’s greatest minds and towering figures be if they didn’t know what they valued, or why, and couldn’t communicate about their values effectively?
The difficulties and opponents of humanistic and humane values are many… I am heartened by the wellspring of energy and the camaraderie I have with those walking beside me. I feel a kinship with all who share similar views of values, wisdom and ethics.