The wisdom that comes with age

An open letter to area youth:

Hi kids; I know as a general rule you don’t always have much concern for us old fogeys. We’re no longer active in anything. So who cares what we think?

I’m one of those old fogeys. In October, I’ll chalk up my 90th birthday, but give me credit that I’ve been there, done that, and lived through it. I’m very proud of many things I have done in my life, but also much of it has been a waste of time that I’d like to have back. Now I don’t do much but sit around and think, so allow me to offer you some of my thoughts.

First, I want to tell you something they never teach you in school — any school. That is, what a miracle it is to be a human being, and what it can mean to you. Generally school is looked upon as learning how to compete in the modern business world in order to carve out a productive life. That’s good, but being a human is more than earning a living. It is also fulfilling the nature of your humanity. To fulfill the destiny of humanity is to become the human being you’ve been destined to be. It seems that some people don’t know what that means.

If you look out upon the world you will notice that every other animal that exists has just enough intelligence to live the life it has been born into. All other animals; dog, cat, lion, zebra, parrot, each has just enough intelligence to complete their life function — no more and no less. Only mankind has an apparently unlimited range of intelligence. Mankind can thus be unpredictable. We can be the salvation of the world, or murderous beasts. When you meet a person on the street, you can’t tell if you are meeting one or the other, of the multitudinous variations of humans. We have various shapes, sizes, and colors, but we have an even greater variety of mentalities. Ah, therein lies the rub, we have a choice of what to make of our lives.

Humans are born with an instinctively curious mind. Young children are unfailingly proud of each new thing they learn. They are on a mission to learn. Unfortunately, we adults aren’t always fostering enough to accommodate their urge for learning, and as they grow a bit older, they find many attractions that lure them from their childhood serenity.

One of the most true, basic facts you will ever hear is: YOUR MIND IS YOUR LIFE. How and what you think, determines what kind of life you will have. There is no statement more meaningful or powerful than that. How you train your own mind is the most important thing you will ever do. A good education, one that deals with the truths of things, be they philosophies, facts of the various sciences, mathematics, or artistic endeavors, are necessary to develop an understanding mentality. Fun and games may be entertaining, but they have limits in developing an understanding human heart, which is a necessity for a successful life in any endeavor. Honesty is critical. Not just with other people, but most importantly with yourself. You yourself are one of the easiest people for you to fool.

Speaking of knowledge; in the Bible story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they are told that they can eat of the fruit of every tree except the tree bearing the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. I wondered for a long time why man should not eat of the tree of knowledge. Isn’t knowledge a good thing? It is, but it has one serious danger to be considered. The more a person knows, the more he may begin to believe he knows it all, has no peer, and is ruled by a runaway ego. Independent self-reliance also defines the ignorant beast.

We have gained more mastery over the world in the last one hundred years, than in all preceding history, because knowledge, like a rolling snowball, just keeps getting bigger, with no known limits. We have finally come to that time when we have the possibility to exterminate all life on the planet — OR — to pursue our fate to its ultimate fulfillment in the true destiny of mankind, as partaking citizens in the glorification of the universe, and all of its potentialities. I may not see the outcome, but I wish you well. May God bless America.

Richard Westlund is a Collins resident. Send comments to