Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fool Me Once

By Brenda Black

I was tempted to pull some clever prank in my column this week. To string you along and then drop a zinger at the end. I thought about presenting some falsified, zany news item or an outlandish prank gone terribly wrong which would cause you to either fall for it or be fearful of ever trying an April Fool's Day joke of your own. Instead, I decided to dissect half-baked antics and try to impart some common sense on this day filled with insanity. So, after you bend over to snatch that quarter glued to the parking lot; or as soon as you wash the black circles from around your eyes after looking through a pair of tainted binoculars, I invite you to read on and think with a clear mind. Let's consider together the fool and discover who qualifies.

Physicist Richard P. Feynman says, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” Have you ever tried to fool yourself? Let's see -- how about setting the car clock ahead 10 minutes so when you glance at it you'll think you are running late and get there early. Ever try standing one-legged on the bathroom scales to convince yourself you've lost a pound? Survey says 3% of women trick themselves with that stork-like strategy. How about hiding something from yourself and then when you need it, you can't remember where you stashed it.

It's a funny/sad sort of game we play on ourselves to manipulate the brain, the ego or the eyes. We fool ourselves with caffeine to convince ourselves we're alert. We fool ourselves with tanning beds and pretend we've taken a tropical vacation. We fool ourselves with diet colas that imitate the real thing and make-up that covers up and hair plugs for hair loss and push-up bras and spandex tights. We are indeed easily fooled. And those are just the cosmetic escapades.

In a world where photos are air brushed and friendships fabricated through social networks, it's no wonder we are readily duped. Hundreds of Toms, Dicks and Harries are scamming folks with YouTube clips and news is only truth based on the political slant the network takes. I hate to be cynical, but it's hard to trust anything or anyone, much less my own perception these days. So what's a fool to do?

Ask your neighbor.

Ironically, as we dupe ourselves, those nearby, watching from the outside in, see all too clearly the kinds of fiascos that take us in or the foolish choices we make. “People have discovered that they can fool the devil; but they can't fool the neighbors,” said Francis Bacon, English Philosopher. If you want to know how foolish you look or act, get an over-the-hedge opinion! “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)

If Feynman's first principle is that you must not fool yourself, then principles two and three have to be: “The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'” (Psalm 14:1) and “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.” (Pro. 28:26)

For those who shrink back from asking the neighbor to weigh in on their life, remember you ultimately answer to a much higher authority. Not the fella who lives next door. Not even your spouse.

It is God who will reveal the imprudent and reward the wise.

This April 1, choose wisdom. Certainly, each of us can be “schnookered” from time to time, as Anatole France contends, “It is human nature to think wisely and act foolishly.” Still, only the discerning will learn from their folly says Sacha Guitry, “Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness.” Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

If, after all this sound and sophisticated advice, you still play the part of a fool, then at least be a fool for Christ! “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19a)

2011 copyright - For reprint rights, please contact author, Brenda Black at http://www.thewordsout-brendablack.com

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