instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What's your problem?

The best and most practical piece of natural wisdom I know is this: The world is full of problems. Figure out which problems are yours, and try to solve them. Don't worry about the problems that aren't yours.

Put that way, it means figuring out which problems are yours is the primary problem of your life (logically speaking; it's not necessarily the most important or intractable problem). Here I'll just suggest three things about doing the figuring.

First, God has revealed some important things relevant to figuring out which problems are yours. If you don't make use of the supernatural wisdom God has provided, then any natural wisdom you might use is, in the end, building on sand.

Second, don't automatically assume that any problem presented to you is your problem. A given problem might be be yours, or it might be someone else's, or it might be shared by you and others, or it might not be anyone's. Many times, too, a shared problem turns out to be two related problems, one belonging to you and one belonging to the other; an obvious example is a parent helping a child with their homework, where the parent's problem is not to find out what "X" is but to help the child learn how to find it out.

Third, that a problem is interesting or important doesn't imply that it is your problem, and that it is your problem doesn't imply that it is interesting or important. Sure, acting to increase the interest and importance of your problems may itself be one of your problems (the career problem, broadly speaking). But the saying of the speck and the plank applies here; who denies that the one with a plank in his eye might genuinely find his neighbor's speck of far greater interest and import?