Feliciter sapit qui periculo alieno sapit.
(Plautus, Mercator 4.7.40)

He gains wisdom happily who gains it by means of someone else’s danger.

(Pron = fay-LICK-ih-tehr SAH-pit kwee pay-RICK-oo-loh ah-lee-AY-noh SAH-pit)

Comment: Very simply, we have opportunities to gain wisdom (really understand at
a through and through level—not just thinking thoughts) by listening to what
others have gained from their difficult experiences. These are the experiences
that challenge a human being at a core level—which take us back all the way to
our origins, to our deepest memories. Or, we can learn all of our lessons for
ourselves, by facing some of those same dangers ourselves. That is often not
necessary. We do not have to experience every danger in order to learn from
it. We can enter into the story of others and the wisdom they point to.

Here’s the catch, as I see it. Often, those we can gain wisdom from are older
than us. Young people, though, by the time they are making life choices, have
learned that often the adults in their world cannot be trusted. They have come
to think of adults as those who are not honest with them, who manipulate them,
who do not see clearly. When an adult comes along with something really honest
to say, the field of suspicion is in place.

The result: the young person will go out and enter into his/her own dangerous
experiences and learn (if he/she survives) the lesson that the older person
might have been able to pass along.

Who has a wisdom to point to today? Who is watching for signs of honesty and
trust today? It’s a total package.

Bob Patrick

NB. Someone was kind enough to write and alert me to the fact that “Numen,
lumen” is NOT the motto of the state of Wisconsin, which attribute I gave for
those words on Sept. 2. On further research, I discovered that it is the motto
of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My apologies for the error.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day is now available on the web.