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Pity The Fool

People aren’t idiots by choice

Last week we talked about the invincible power of kindness. This week, we will discuss what makes some people act like total assholes.

Understanding is a state of being. A person either understands something or they don’t.

For example, once a child understands that touching a stove will hurt him, he will choose not to touch it, because he knows that the pain of the action far outweighs the dopamine of doing something he isn’t supposed to.

But what about liars, thieves, adulterers, and their ilk?

  • A thief believes his integrity is less valuable than the candy, coins, or car of his neighbor or local grocery
  • A liar believes the truth is less valuable than the temporary influence he may gain from a lie
  • An adulterer believes a few moments of friction and a squirt of mucous are worth more than his promise of faithfulness
  • An abuser believes his victims’ fear is more valuable than their trust, love, and loyalty

But, why do these people see things the way they do?

They can’t help it. They’re idiots. 

Quote Of The Week

“‘Well, shouldn’t we do away with . . . degenerates?’ 

Try putting the question this way: ‘Shouldn’t we rid ourselves of people deceived about what’s most important, people who are blind – not in their faculty of vision . . . – but in the moral capacity to distinguish good from bad?’ 

Put it that way, and you’ll realize how inhumane your position is. It is as if you were to say, ‘Shouldn’t this blind man . . . be executed?’” – Epictetus

The Solution To Hate

Dealing with fools is frustrating. At best, they make poor choices and create avoidable problems for themselves and others. At worst, they are cruel cowards who derive pleasure from inflicting pain and fear upon others.

So, how do we deal with ignorant people?

We avoid them if possible. If not, we educate them or we tolerate them.

For example, it’s possible to deter a child from touching a stove by explaining that the stove will burn him. We can even allow him to hold his hands near the burner to feel the heat, but not so close as to cause injury.

However, we must at the same time accept that if our lessons are not effective, the child is bound to learn one way or another.

We treat abusers the same way. Establish boundaries if possible. If not, we get as far away from them as we can. If they will not learn, and we cannot escape, we accept our circumstances and watch patiently for an opportunity to change them.

However, we do not give into hate, because when we hate fools, we become them. Then we, too, must either learn things the hard way or die in total ignorance.

Pity the fool, lest you become his reflection.

Question Of The Week

Have you ever stooped to petty revenge after someone hurt you? Was the result worth the effort?

Live On Purpose // Die Without Regrets

Hey, I’m Chris. I’m a writer, musician, and philosopher. My “life’s work” is to create content that helps people live on purpose and die without regrets.

Each Wednesday, I send a 3–4 minute newsletter that applies the wisdom of the past to modern life.

I draw these weekly lessons from ancient philosophies like Stoicism, Taoism, and Zen, along with examples from the lives of great women and men who lived and died long ago.

Want to grow together? Join the Garden to get these bite-size meditations delivered straight to your inbox every week.

 

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