I love the Book of Proverbs, because it’s like a whole book of Hebrew fortune cookies.
For the most part, each passage is pretty much some new little nugget of ancient wisdom.
I can just scan through the pages and pick one at random and see what it has to tell me today. It’s kind of fun.
Today’s random proverb? Chapter 17, verse 10. It reads:
“A reproof entereth more into a wise man than a hundred stripes into a fool.”
How true that is.
How many times have you told someone, again and again, about something they need to work on?
Or vice versa — how many times has someone told you of your own errors, only to repeatedly brush them off and keep making them?
Indeed, it seems we are all fools.
But perhaps, just perhaps, some of us can learn to be wiser fools than others.
One of the main themes in most religions is the concept of humility.
Humility is what enables you to accept reproof and learn from it. It’s the voice that says, “Hey, you know what? Maybe I really am wrong. Even if that person chastising me is being a bossy prick.”
The opposite trait, of course, would be pride.
That’s the voice that says, “Nah, screw that guy. Who is he to tell me what to do? Look at his own imperfections!”
But sometimes, the one being the a-hole is right.
And humility is a virtue because it enables us to see past our own egos and see something objectively.
Don’t worry — that person can still be an a-hole. But at least you won’t be the dummy who can’t take advice from anyone but people you like.
You see, it’s one thing to be a fool, but there’s nothing worse than a proud fool. You know, the kind of idiot that actually takes self-satisfaction in their folly. And they might even know they’re wrong, but still do it anyway — just because they are proud.
It seems there’s a lot of that going around these days.
Indeed, pride and ego may very well be soaring in our society like never before.
But the message of ancient wisdom is clear — it is the fools who thrive on pride.
And by pride, I don’t mean the positive sense of it, which might be better called “self-satisfaction.”
I mean the toxic, irrational sense of it. The kind of feeling that tells you you actually are better, fundamentally, than others. That tells you not to listen to someone or something objectively just because it rubs you the wrong way.
This kind of pride isn’t rational or intellectual. It is emotion-based and non-objective. It’s also delusional — and the way of fools. Proud fools.
Appreciate yourself. Love yourself. Be satisfied and pleased with the good things you have accomplished, and know and value your own strengths.
But as the saying goes, “check yourself before you wreck yourself.”
Or in other words, don’t be so blinded by x, y, or z as to not see things clearly, as they really are.
We are all imperfect. We are all, on some level, fools — because we are all but babes before God and the entirety of all that is.
But we can still choose to grow in wisdom, and we do this as we choose humility — and, I should add, love. Love for others, and love for self. Accepting the imperfections and shortcomings of all, but valuing the good nevertheless.
In this way, we can more walk the divine path of wisdom, mastery, and growth.
So let it be.