Opinion: Discerning ‘good advice’


We’re all looking for a little good advice. What’s the right way to lose those extra pounds packed on from too much holiday candy? How worried should we be about the war in Europe? Will we ever be able to retire since the stock market cannot seem to stop falling? These are all tough issues. Each one has come to us, in some form, over the journey of a lifetime. As with many complications, more questions simply beg more answers. We spin around like a dog chasing its tail.

So, how do we break the circle? If we seek insight, if we hope to boost our understanding through the learning and experience of others, where do we go to find our experts? Advice, it seems, is only as good as the mouth from which it flows. We might ask those around us, whom we respect, for their thoughts. Do we restrict ourselves to those we know personally? Who are the national experts? Aren’t they superior? Some people call it the 50-mile rule, this fiction that know-how only exists somewhere over the rainbow. Still, we don’t want to limit our knowledge base to those living next door.

We might ask the internet how it would manage the problem. The people and institutions we know and believe should be our guides, but our confidence in them has never been lower. We reflect on our own experience hoping to discover that we are savants and don’t require advice at all. Whatever our approach, we hope to garner the best, most sage guidance.

Among the good human wisdom to be found in Proverbs is, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors, they are established.” In a multiplicity of perspectives, we must come to rely on ourselves to discern.