Please permit me a personal definition: Wisdom in the personal quality of being able to make decisions which represent a good balance between reality as it is and reality as it can be. Wise decisions are realistic without being caged in by the reality of the moment. They are decisions which lead to a better reality, which effect positive changes.
Wisdom is grounded in understanding. People who don’t understand what they are doing or what is going on around them, cannot make wise decisions. To understand is to see into the meaning of an idea, a thing, or a person. It is to have insight into today’s reality.
Obviously, we cannot have understanding of some particular reality if we lack knowledge of it, if we simply do not see it accurately or at all. Nor can we have understanding if we are dishonest about what we see. Knowledge requires of us that we pay attention to the facts and are honest about them.
Knowledge, then is the foundation of understanding, which in turn is the foundation of wisdom.
When we look at the loose tongue of Trump or the loose fingertips typing out those ridiculous tweets, we realize that he simply does not care about truth and reality. He speaks things he knows to be false with the same conviction as things he knows to be true. He is careless with facts to the point of being dangerous.
Why does he proclaim over and over again that he won the electoral college by a huge margin? he says it is because somebody told him so. He fails to do his own fact-checking, tot censor his own speaking.
Why would he tell us to consider the terrible things that happened in Sweden last night, when in fact nothing did? Well, he says he heard it on Fox News. But the report on Fox did not in any way substantiate such a claim. Trump is simply careless with truth, disinterested in honesty.
So, with his inattention to reality, he very clearly is a man without understanding and — tragically for America and democracy — and a man incapable of making wise decisions.
Am I just guessing about his bad decisions? To give just one example, consider his decision to hire Steve Miller as his policy advisor. Anyone who did not find Miller’s appearances on several channels last week to be deeply disturbing is terribly insensitive to the signs of tyranny. Such talk as we heard from Miller has absolutely no place in a democracy.
Trump may be a wily negotiator and manipulator but being wily and being wise are two very, very different matters.