Wisdom is commonly thought of as an application of a tradition’s understanding or knowledge in resolving life’s everyday problems in a culture. However, one tradition’s wisdom may be a solution or thinking method that is functional in a different culture. Of course, each tradition has its own context for its own wisdom, even though wisdom may be versatile and may deliberately be borrowed to work in another context. There may be a wisdom that transcends all traditions but it would have to have been borrowed and have had a starting point. That kind of wisdom may be connected with the human life-cycle or with what Jung called the collective unconscious. Shared wisdom is probably one culture’s problem-solving cross-pollinating to the effect of becoming more universal. However, the particular tool (wisdom) may also be being used for purposes not intended. A hammer becomes a saw and this may account for most of the cross-pollination, the misuse of a tool that probably was even ineffective in the culture of origin.
In the age of globalization, wisdom may be exhausted with wisdoms inter-pollinating, and twisting the wisdoms’ intents. Globalization is certainly causing tension in tradition-focused cultures. Science may also be eradicating the whole notion of wisdom. Foreign wisdom may at least call attention to perspectives from folks from other traditions or who are considered on the fringe of a tradition to which they offer perspective. In some cultures in the West tradition is generational at best. Wisdom may be a tall figure that gives comfort to folk or a culture, but it is also pathology of power that allows thinking to stop so that others may control.
When someone from outside or on the fringe of a culture contributes an observation that isn’t a tool for solving a problem in either her culture or the beneficiary’s culture, it isn’t wisdom so much as it is the beginning of shift paradigms in different segments of society. It is an insight that allows dialogue and education that may change a way of life for the world. If nothing else, the observation makes clear the predicament that a way of life faces.