The wisest person I know is my father. He received very bad grades in school, struggles with his spelling, knows all there is to know about farming and old trucks, and has a deep appreciation for native american lore. But how does all of this make him wise?
Many Native American tribes traditionally give their elders a great deal of respect, unlike a good portion of modern society. You do not speak unless invited to when in the presence of an elder. They were considered the wise men of the tribe, and all were expected to speak softly around them. Not just because of their age, but because of their knowledge, as an older person with no knowledge, was not considered an elder.
So to me wisdom deals a lot with experience, and the knowledge gained through experience over the years. Though I don’t believe it should be limited to your age, as I also feel I have gained a great deal of wisdom through my trials and tribulations.
Folks can go to school, get their 6 year degrees and consider themselves legally geniuses, but what real knowledge about life and the world have they gained in doing so? What challenges have they gone through that have forced them to think as a person. What are they able to teach the next generation about life?
My spiritual path teaches me that my father is wise because he is able to discern right and wrong, accept and adapt to the changes of the modern world, and still hold on to his traditions and values, passing them onto me and eventually any children I have. It is important for modern traditions and people of my generation to understand that our parents and grandparents are not just people to eventually lock away in a nursing home to be forgotten about. They lived through an entire different world and environment, as we are living now. Wisdom to me is the realization that we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, and eventually the next generation will stand on ours.