Jesus of Nazareth. Moses. Noah. Leonardo DaVinci. Confucious. Merlin. Gandalf. Professor Dumbeldore.
What do these men (real & fictional) have in common?
Well, two things that come to my mind right away. First – all are regarded as being “enlightened” or “wise” persons. The second is simply a drill in observing the obvious. They all wore their hair longer than normal, and wore beards.
In our society people (especially guys) are trained to fit into the nice little mold of always keeping our appearances “within the safe boundaries” society accepts. Guys should keep their hair cut off the collar and over the ears. Any facial hair is discouraged, but certainly one should never wear a full beard & moustache without keeping them trimmed very neatly.
Think about the appearance of the men listed above. If you must, do a Google search for pics of them (Leonardo even did one portrait of himself). Would you have befriended any of these men, if you met them on the street? Or would you consider them to be outcasts, social renegades, people not to be trusted? Try to answer that based on their appearances only, without any evaluation based on what you know about them from history (or fictional movies).
If you are like most people, you would have considered them people not to be trusted, just because they don’t “look normal.” They don’t shave their faces, or keep their hair short. Some people would even go so far as to make jokes like “Is that a man, or a woman?”
So, what is it about them that makes us consider them to be wise or enlightened? Why would we be willing to listen to advice from any of them, based on their names, but not based on their looks? Is there something about their personalities that caused them to look as they do?
Well, each of these men was a non-conformist, to be sure. Perhaps that is where some of their wisdom comes from – looking at things from a different point of view than most people use. These men are each completely secure in their own opinions of themselves. They don’t care what others think, or perhaps even chose to maintain an appearance that would challenge the attitudes of others. Even Professor Dumbledore, in the Harry Potter movie series, we can see is surrounded in the magical world with wizards who keep their chins shaved clean, yet he does not.
Perhaps a part of their renowned wisdom is the result of their disrespect for society’s expectations? After all, is it not true that what society tries to mold us into is actually just what will keep things safe, without rocking the boat? Or without challenging those in power?
Personally, I freely admit to being a bit of a chameleon. I change my appearance at the drop of a hat. I’ve worn my hair short, or half-way down my back. Beard, or no beard. Mustache or none. I’ve worn suits daily, and also had daily jobs where my after-work shower turned the water black for the first 5 minutes. I’ve partied with millionaires, and with people on welfare, or in the US military. I’ve attended metropolitan stage performances (plays) and I’ve performed in them. I deliberately seek to not fit into any pigeon-hole provided by society. So far, I think I’ve succeeded. However, I need go no farther than my own step-mother to get a feel for how any of the men listed above would be treated by society at large today. She openly looks down her nose at me any time my hair touches my ears (currently it covers them). So, I think that to find apprentices, disciples, or allies in our current society, these men I named above would have to turn to the only group of people who would accept them as they were, without judgement – bikers. Can you picture Jesus of Nazareth riding down the highway on a Hog?