When I was young -- still in fifth grade -- my local public librarian (the ever-enigmatic Mrs. Johnson) persuaded me to read Plato. Somehow, I got hooked. After many hours of reading, I remember sitting on our tiny concrete porch and thinking, "When I grow up, I want to be wise." That's what I thought Socrates was after, too.
I regret to say that over 30 years later, I'm not making much progress. (And in retrospect, I think Plato didn't do so well, either.) But I have run across a few wise people in my life.
I'd always heard that Philip S. Miller didn't like being called P.S. Miller.
But it turns out that his only objection was that there was another P.S. Miller in town, and the two sometimes got confused.
To the people that knew him, to his friends, he was Phil Miller. I regret that I knew him too late in his life to call him a friend. But I've always been impressed with the quality of the people who claim that distinction.
No matter who you are, there are things you don't know. Ignorance is a defining element of the human condition.
Still, most of us aren't satisfied with that. We seek knowledge. But where?
Before you go to school, you believe that the best source of the truth is your mom or dad.
In elementary school, you think that your teacher has the authoritative answer.
By the time you get to middle and high school, you're sure that your more experienced peers are the only ones you can trust.
I remember the precise moment when Maddy, my daughter, hit the Age of Reason. We were on a long drive back from Arizona. She asked me where people came from -- not "the birds and the bees" kind of question, but more along the lines of "how did human beings wind up on the planet?"
On the one hand, this is one of those tricky moments in parenting. Whether you go with creation or evolution, the next question is, "How do you know?"