Friday, 17 June 2011


a Moment for Wisdom…


Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”

Ayn Rand

Personal Wisdom:

Where do you experience contradictions?

What are the premises upon which they are

Societal Wisdom:

How do you experience the contradictions (if any) in your society?

a Moment with Sharif…


While this quote may be a tad “absolutist” (after all, it IS Ayn Rand!), I think there is a lot of truth in it.

One of the ways that I get myself in trouble is by creating an entirely self-described deadline (“I will finish that article by Thursday”), then start sweating when other external deadlines get in my way. No, I don’t have a contradiction or conflict regarding my time… I have a premise I need to readjust.

Well, that one’s easy. There are much harder ones that still yield to Rand’s insight. How about this one: the woman who believes it is important to go to a certain meeting, and believes that if she is not at home fixing her husband’s dinner, she is a “bad” person. (Her husband does not have to say or reinforce (or even agree with) that position in order for her to believe it.) What are the premises underlying each of these beliefs? Which one is wrong… for her? (It’s easy to work through someone else’s contradictions!!! It’s nearly impossible to see your own.)

Now, I’m talking about more than just a conflict or clash of scheduling. The dictionary defines “contradiction” as “a proposition, statement, or phrase that asserts or implies both the truth and falsity of something”.

So, its not just that the woman above has a scheduling conflict… we all have those. It’s that she believes something to be true (going to the meeting is important) and that belief conflicts with the “truth” of another, different belief (staying at home and fixing her husband’s dinner is important). This is not a scheduling conflict, or even a conflict of values.  THIS IS A CONFLICT IN BELIEFS.

How about this for a contradiction?

That statement is from a Buddhist perspective.  Saying the same thing from a Christian

  • I believe that I should “Love my enemies”.
  • I believe that it is okay, just and my duty to kill my enemies.

So… either Jesus and the Buddha are wrong, or there are a lot of people around the
world who are living lives of deep contradiction.

According to Rand’s statement, how do we “check our premises”? Well, in a healthy society, we would go to the moral authority for our community (the high priest, the wise woman, the church/temple leadership…) and ask them. It may stimulate a debate within
the community. From this, a course of action would emerge… one that would be healthy for the individual and the community at large.

Nowadays? “Moral authority” has eroded to the point that it’s the “moral” leaders that exhort their followers to kill and terrorize.

THAT’S WHERE WE COME IN. Those of us who learn and practice our wisdom will become the new moral authority of an emerging society. Not because we necessarily want to, but because we’re living our wisdom “out loud”, and there are some big gaps to fill.




All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.


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2 Responses to Friday, 17 June 2011

  1. Shirlene says:

    “…living our wisdom out-loud” this statement inspires me to act – thank you, Sharif!

  2. Connie says:

    As a result of your comments, I am commencing to figure out, think about, sort out, contemplate and act on my contradictions (where indicated) 🙂

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