Recently, I was at an MC Yogi concert where he was working his tour’s tag line: “Yogi Revolution, Love is the Solution”. While I appreciate the sentiment, it got me thinking…

Love is oft touted as the solution to all ills. I’m not seeing it.

Without love, life is not worthwhile. It is gray, dismal, lonely and harsh. Love, mercy, compassion, care, kindness give value and joy to all we do. But is not a solution to our problems.

Our problems are from bad choices, from promoting the stupidity of selfishness over general wellbeing. What love is here is too narrow a love, just for self or those closest. Wide enough love can be the spark that leads to action, but it is not the solution.

For love, alone, is used as a palliative: Don’t worry, just love each other and all will be well. At worst is it the mere sentiment, the subjective feeling of love, that we are enjoined cultivate, having no impact on anyone except ourselves, and we feel so good about it. Yet the object of our love gets nothing of our sentiment except maybe words, perhaps flowers. Love at its best is the will for another’s happiness, and this at least has the virtue of being motivating, to someone. Yet, in and of itself love is not a solution.

Wisdom is the ability to make the right choices, even without sufficient data, because it is founded on data, which when contextualized is knowledge, and when the pattern in the knowledge is then understood and recognized time and again such that general principals of the ways of the world can be intuited. This is wisdom and takes hard work to get there. So hard is it that the most direct discipline to acquiring it is called the Love of Wisdom: Philosophy. To forestall the hubris of claiming to be wise, we only claim to aspire to wisdom through the love of it.

Wisdom, by looking at the facts, by learning them, understanding them, and then carefully crafting a solution using both reason and intuition (and testing!) can actually provide real solutions to the problems that vex us.

Arguably, we also need Power to implement Wisdom’s solutions. Knowing or intuiting the right thing to do without the power to enact it is useless. Power will require its own contemplation, one for another day.

I will close this contemplation with these ancient words…

Wisdom alone
Is the right coin with which to deal,
And with it everything of real worth is bought and sold.
And for it, Temperance and Justice, Fortitude and Prudence,
Are a kind of preliminary purification.

And those who instituted the Mysteries for us
Appear to have been by no means contemptible persons,
And to have intimated in a veiled manner that
Whoever descends into Hades uninitiated,
And without being a partaker in the Mysteries,
Shall lie in the mire;
But that whoever arrived there purified and initiated,
Shall dwell with the Gods.

Yet, as said by those who preside over the Mysteries:
Many are the candidates seeking Initiation,
But few are the perfected Initiates.
But these few are, in my judgment, true wisdom-lovers;
And that I may be of their number
I shall leave nothing unattempted,
But shall exert myself in all possible ways.

in Plato’s Phaedo