September 19, 2002

John Fiesole of Disputations has an intriguing policy...
The Fiesole Policy is simply this:
I am wiser than the people I am older than.


It recalls the old saying: "Young men say more than they know. The middle-aged tell what they know. Old men tell less than they know."

Think of the advantages of being young and stupid. You are constantly learning! And everyone you meet has something to offer you. (We've all met persons with a sub-70 IQ with beatific smiles, who are preternaturally nice and likewise know a few high-IQ curmugeons.) With knowledge and age comes a greater demand for virtue, in the sense that you are in a position of giving rather than receiving. I'm not sure there is anything I can offer our learned Dominican, Fr. Hayes conversationally speaking. I can't give him some insight into the gospel he hasn't heard before, or some piece of wisdom he hasn't already read. If we spoke, it would be either small talk or some pearl of knowledge from him. In other words, I am dependent on his largesse in terms of sitting down and having a conversation. He must either suffer my small talk or suffer a question he's already heard a million times.

A friend of mine still hangs out with singles who are a few years younger than him. He eats lunch with them once a month, but says he really doesn't want to anymore. The conversation is banal. "All they talk about is where they are going, where they just were or who they are meeting later this week. Or celebrities." The universe of "interesting things" seems to shrink as one ages, since my friend (and I commiserate) can no longer feign interest in the latest sitcom. Religion tends to dwarf other subjects of interest such as sports. But are we not poorer for having less in common with our fellow man, even if it is fluff? Natural affection wanes and true love must take its place.

"I went to a doctor of philosophy
with a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knees
he never did marry
or see a B-grade movie
he graded my performance
I swear he could see through me
- Indigo Girls song

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