To start this post, let’s look at the definition of folly:

1.  the state or quality of being foolish; lack of understanding or sense.

2.  a foolish action, practice, idea, etc.; absurdity:

3.  a costly and foolish undertaking; unwise investment or expenditure.

This definition tells us that a foolish person is lacking in understanding, has no sense, acts foolishly, and often makes costly choices.

Some think of the word “ignorant” when they think of the fool.  This is only partially true.  Let’s look at three forms of ‘ignorance’.

♦A♦       a person who does not know/hasn’t learned yet.

♦B♦       a person who does not know/doesn’t want to know.

♦C♦       a person who does not know/thinks he/she already knows.

Ignorance is Strength

Ignorance is Strength (Photo credit: Jeff Macpherson)

So, a foolish person may be ignorant, but an ignorant person is not always foolish.  I often hear those who do not make these distinctions casting aspersions on people who fall into the first category, instead of recognizing that there is a legitimate form of ignorance that is not the person’s fault.  That person either has not come across the information for learning, had a teacher fail to communicate it well, or has difficulties comprehending it.

This person is off the hook for the rest of this post.

"understanding things is overrated"

"understanding things is overrated" (Photo credit: Geff Rossi)

But what about the one who doesn’t know, doesn’t learn, because they do not want to know (♦B♦).  For this category, I think of a certain someone,usually young, who keeps making the same wrong choices.  The new choice may look different in some ways, but the fundamental problem with the choice is still present.Take for instance a teen or adult child who refuses to listen to his/her parents.  Let’s say the person goes through a string of relationships, love and otherwise, in which they choose people who are going to hurt them.  The parent may try to head off the disaster and pain they see coming, again, but the person has made up their mind that this time it will be different.  He or she turns off the learning capability because what the parent want’s him or her to learn is not what he or she wants to believe. This person brings to mind the following verse:

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.”  Proverbs 26:11

He or she keeps coming back to the same thing again and again and again, failing to learn the lesson each time and rationalizing that the new choice is different in some way.  I am also reminded of many addicts.  They keep going back to their drug of choice despite numerous attempts to stop.

What about person ♦C♦?  This scenario brings to mind those who engage in political wrangling based on their opinion, without regard to any truth that may be presented to them.  I believe what I believe what I believe.  Don’t throw truth at my dilusions.  Of course, figuring out which of these people fall into this category may depend on the beholder, but they are out there.  These people, often almost foaming at the mouth in their efforts to keep from admitting to theirself that they could possibly be wrong.  Once again the beholder may project on others this label unjustly.

choice and context

choice and context (Photo credit: Will Lion)

“Wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.” Job 5:1

♦A♦   Does not know something that the majority of people know.  (Why I have issues with IQ tests.)  Neither dumb nor stupid, this person just hasn’t learned yet.  I fall into this category in many ways and seek always to learn new things.

♦B♦   Has blocked ears in order to not hear wisdom, going back to his/her folly (bad choices) repeatedly despite suffering the same consequences each time.   —I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you—

♦C♦  A know-it-all who consideres self above others who disagree.  Often allows anger to get out of hand. Rash in the desire to promote own beliefs/ideas as the final authority.  Often avoided and not well liked by others, but oblivious.  {Disclaimer:  I am not talking about beliefs that should belong to all, such as ‘do not kill’.  Nor do I want to say that all beliefs are equally valuable. They are not.}

I see a growing of folly in our world today.  Increases in “drama”, crime, disobedient children, etc., abound.  Take a look at facebook and you will see folly on every page.

A standard medieval allegory of Foolishness, p...

Image via Wikipedia

Do you ever find yourself falling into one of these categories?  [of ignorance or folly] 

Do you know people in these categories?

Have you ever cast someone in the first category of ignorance in with the rest, defaming them for not knowing something you think they should know?  {This happens in the writing world as well.} 

Do you learn from your mistakes or repeat them?

What solution do you see for the problem of increasing foolishness?


A few things God says about folly:

“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour:  so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor.”  Ecclesiastes 10:1   {A wise person can do a lot of damage with a little folly.}

“The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way:  but the folly of fools is deceit.” Proverbs 14:9

Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it:  but the instruction of fools is folly.  Prov 14:24   {no point in casting pearls before swine}

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame to him prov 18:13   {fools rush in…}   CONFESSION:  This is one I have to watch.  My tongue likes to take off before I know the full matter if I am not careful.  ♦All stories have more than one side.♦