Prudence is not just a name

I’m a “word person” much to the chagrin of my family. Some would say it’s because of the childhood influence of a father as a college English teacher but I think my sister would disagree since her mastery of the English language was a bit underwhelming. (Love ya sis!) At any rate, I am extremely attentive to the use of the English language in American culture and constantly amazed at how it is butchered and tortured. I won’t get on my soap box about the basics of “your” versus “you’re”, that’s just a side show to how key concepts just get lost because there is no clue of the word itself.

The picture is just some random person with the real life name Prudence, I have no personal knowledge of this person at all. But I’ve been surprised by some people that think Prudence is just an odd name for a person, literally no awareness of it as a real word. So, if Prudence is not just a name, what does it mean? Prudence involves the concepts of foresight and discretion. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/prudence

This relates to “life at the poles” because when a subject involves more than one principle, prudence comes into play and from personal experience life rarely is reduced to utilizing just one principle or truth. Why is prudence important and not just the ramblings of some dude that’s an admitted word person? Because I think that our culture has largely lost the notion that prudence is even valuable let along important.

When a culture begins to think that there are no risks in life or that the risks are “manageable” then why is there a need for foresight? Likewise, in a society steeped in personal liberty like America, then why is discretion needed? These are just a couple of questions that highlight how culture can blind us to core truths and start the process of redefinition by first forgetting what a core truth even means. I can guarantee that anyone that has lived a fair numbers of years of life realize that risks are not completely controllable (just ask the folks in Fukushima, Japan about nuclear reactors) and ignoring my impact on other people for the sake of my liberty leads to a pretty unhappy life.

Life is an extremely expensive teacher with a cost that does not have bounds. The only way to lessen that cost is to obtain prudence. As Solomon said of his sayings of wisdom in Proverbs:

“To give prudence to the naive,
To the youth knowledge and discretion”    Proverbs 1:4

Continuing the metaphor of life at the poles, not all of life is reduced into black and white. That may come as a shock for some people as it bleeds over into the subjects of business, religion, and politics. An example of this point is a statement I found one day:

“”Do not drink the cleaning solution” would be a rule of prudence. This rule would not be considered a moral rule because while it is not morally wrong to drink cleaning solution, it does serve your best interest to avoid doing so.”

And before you brush that off as a contrived example, think why adults teach children about cleaners and manufacturers put child safety caps on the bottles. Because some are naive about what the liquid is and it’s harmful effects if ingested. And there in is why Solomon sought to give prudence to the naive; not about trivial subjects like cleaning fluid but about things pertaining to life. I can be quite the child at times about life and need some help to remove my naivete before I end up paying yet another expensive life lesson.

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About Steve Ledford
Christian, husband, father, businessman, engineer, and all around regular guy. I have travelled some uncommon paths in life. Over the course of time I have found that truth is always simple, without exception. My life's purpose is to find it, live it, and speak it.

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