The video spoke of "the wisest words I know", and yes, in context there were wise words along with many other provocative phrases such as "clear speaking is generally obsolete thinking", and "the problem with full statement is ... it leaves no room for participation".
But the video mentions "the wisest words I know"? Last night at 4am I was wrestling with this. In the morning I asked another person "What are the wisest words you know?", and received a quick answer from the surface of their thinking, as one might expect.
What are the wisest words? Are there wisest words? There are of course wise words for a situation, but what are the top-most, best possible, all time greatest of wise words? That's like trying to ask what is wisdom's gravity; what words lie at the centre of wisdom's pervasive, all impacting, inescapable influence.
Here are some examples of wisdom from my two most favourite authors. They live(d) a century apart, one was a firm Christian, the other is a serious atheist, yet each reflects the other and together they reflect ... truth?
- "When a man really tells the truth, the first truth he tells is that he himself is a liar." - G. K. Chesterton
- "The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head." - Terry Pratchett
- “There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there.” - G.K. Chesterton
- "Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” - Terry Pratchett
- "To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.” - G.K. Chesterton
- "Smart is only a polished version of dumb." - Terry Pratchett
- "If we want to give poor people soap we must set out deliberately to give them luxuries. If we will not make them rich enough to be clean, then ... we must reverence them for being dirty" - G.K. Chesterton
- “Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.” - Terry Pratchett
I love such words because they touch a truth I know deep inside but have never been able to express. I think wise words are simply this, no more, no less: words that give a voice and life to what we know on the deepest levels to be true but have never known how to express.
Of course they're not always relevant!
What are the wisest words I know? What words tell me a truth I've not been able to voice? What words, like gravity, hold everything else together?
"Love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, for that is the source of all Joy. Love my neighbour as myself, for that is the truck to transport my joy."
No joy? Garbage truck!
No truck? Useless joy!
No joy, no truck? I'm a fly beholding the fly paper, and I will soon become what I behold.
That's wise. (I think)