Monday, January 02, 2006


This is the first day of the New Year and of all the rest of our lives. What have we carried forward from past days, and years? It has been said that an economist is a man who knows a great deal about very little, and who goes along knowing more and more about less and less, until finally he knows practically everything about nothing. So it is with me, and so it probably is with many others if we expect to become any wiser. Those who have attained a majority of years might try it for themselves. Think back to ages eighteen or twenty—recall how wise and knowing we were then. I would like to be so smart once again, if only for an hour. That is, of course, only about as long as such wisdom can bear the light of this day. If the truth be told, we learn more and more of how much we do not know, if we learn anything. How wise then, are the ones who finally recognize how little they know after all; and possibly also how relieved. (A case in point might be our Nation’s long-standing, revered economist Alan Greenspan. Unburdening himself of his great responsibilities only last year, beyond a couple of cautionary words he demonstrated admirable brevity in recommending very little for the future, clearly a wiser chairman). Here it is day two of this New Year and we have been facing the elements as never before; prior learning is not always immediately applicable to this unprecedented onslaught of air, earth, fire and water. Winds and floods, mud-slides and flames rage out of control as never before. We must learn new ways to cope, but where does one look for knowledge we have not yet learned? Here I am reminded of a line spoken by Reb Tevye when asked just how their ancient Jewish customs and traditions came to be the way they are. With wonder and almost joyfulness in his voice he says, “Well, I’ll tell you, I don’t know”! This ordinary man was expressing his wonder and glory for God, who already knows what is unfolding—and how inadequate our own understanding is beside it. He was evidently glad that God’s greatness is regularly proven by how far short of such reasoning we mortals fall. For wisdom we might do well to heed Matthew 6:33 wherein he says, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”. All else will follow.