THE WISDOM PROJECT


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Hello, and welcome to The Wisdom Project. We hope you will participate by sending us one kernel or gem of widsom, ultimately to be published in a collective work.

The Project was begun in 1987 when I was in law school. Deciding that there was a need to gather together in one place the collective wisdom of the masses, a group of colleagues and I wrote the following letter, which we planned to send out to thousands of people (in our spare time!):

 

The Wisdom Project

Please allow us to introduce ourselves, in the hope that you might share your Wisdom with the world.

We are four law students at the University of Texas who, after much discussion and too much coffee, have developed an idea for a book. Not so much a book that we will write, but a book that is a collection of the thoughts of ten, a hundred, perhaps a thousand others. The collection will be a collection of Wisdoms, and our effort toward that end is The Wisdom Project.

Everyone is in possession of a Wisdom. For purposes of the Project, a Wisdom is the one thing you have learned in life, expressible in words and in a paragraph or less, that you would most want to pass on to others. You might think of it as an Eternal Truth, a Life Lesson, a Guiding Principle, a Rule of Thumb, a Helpful Hint, a Way Of Doing Something, or some Good Advice. The goal of every Wisdom is to help others to live their lives better for having had the opportunity to learn from it. In this way, Wisdoms are unselfish, given freely with the hope of making the world a better place with no expectation of return.

As such, a Wisdom can be a late-night musing; a cautionary tale; a recipe; a statement from a child; advice that you were given that you've put to good use; a strange coincidence; a poignant quotation; a food, location, or activity (or combination thereof) that must be tried; a quiet paradox about the universe that you've never shared out loud; or virtually anything else. There really are no rules, just the definition given above: "the one thing you have learned in life, expressible in words and in a paragraph or less, that you would most want to pass on to others."

In a sense, The Wisdom Project is an experiment in the great Social Contract, which theorizes that we all have obligations and responsibilities to each other by virtue of living in a society. That's more or less what society is. And it is our hope that The Wisdom Project will increase the well-being of everyone - by offering your one Wisdom you will, if all goes according to plan, be enriched by hundreds or thousands more.

Our goal in sending you this letter is to ask you to send us your Wisdom, and perhaps a bit of information about you (first name, age, city, occupation, whatever you want -- all optional, of course) to put your Wisdom in context. After an appropriate length of time, if all goes well, we will compile the collective thoughts of our respondents into a book to be made available to the public. A book by the people, for the people. What could be more appropriate than that?

That book, this Project, is our Wisdom to you. Along with perhaps the most important two rules we've learned in our collective 85 years of being alive: (1) Don't sweat the small stuff, and (2) It's all small stuff. If there is something you have to share with the world, we hope you will use this forum to do it. Before we head out into the world to begin our post-law school lives, we hope we can give something back before we've even started. And we hope you can help.

Please help us to help you share your Wisdom with the world.

Steve Burns
Robyn Scott
Dave Shukan
Eric Thomas

Austin, Texas
October 1987



Alas, law school and postage being what they were, the Wisdom Letter was sent out to only 25 people chosen somewhat randomly from the phone book. (12 of them were named "Wisdom") None responded. In an effort to revive the project, I have created this page in the hope that, even if I don't go to the masses, the masses will come to me, and offer up their collective Wisdom so that, one day, a web page, book, or maybe even an encyclopedia of Wisdom can spring forth, to enrich those who happen to glance upon its pages. And if Steve, Robyn, and Eric are out there - this one's for you, guys. And for all of us.

It is with this background that I am requesting that you please email me your wisdom (dshukan -at- gmail.com, along with whatever information about yourself, if any, that you wish to provide for context.

This page will be updated from time to time, with information on how the Project is progressing.

Thanks on behalf of the Project and myself,

Dave Shukan
Los Angeles
March 1997



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