Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Right to Folly

Several of us met recently to discuss how to help those who turn to us in times of need.

Often their needs result from their own bad decisions, which they cling to. Indeed, some folks simply leap from one bad decision to the next.

Worse, when they seek advice, they don’t accept anything we say that calls into question those decisions, or the pattern that will lead to more.

At this point in the discussion, someone introduced the term “The Right to Folly.”

I’d never heard it before. It comes down to this: Do we have an inalienable right to be fools? And as helpers, are we obliged to grant someone that “Right to Folly”?

As Americans do we hold folly as an unspoken self-evident truth? Could it be that right up there with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the “right to folly”?

There’s something appealing about the notion. Kings and courts all recognized the need for a fool.

The difference, of course, is that the fool recognized himself as the fool. Jesters tapped into the wisdom of being laughably different from the questionable norm.

Not so with the kind of destructive foolishness we were talking about at our meeting.

Still, if we could laugh about folly and our "right" to it, we might gain perspective.

I have to confess that the more I learn about the strange responsibilities age and experience cast upon me, the more I laugh — perhaps like a fool. An old fool.

Our planetary plight would be laughable if the costs weren’t so high. Only fools would hate each other. Only fools would kill each other. Only fools would live in a way that threatens all life.

And who among us has not played the fool?

Why do we tolerate our “Right to Folly”?

Perhaps we need to clear the air with a good “righteous” laugh about our folly before we can progress. “The Right to Folly” is true, funny and tragic. A laughable paradox.

Only after we absolve ourselves with laughter at our foolishness will we fully feel the folly of our ways and begin our transformation.

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