Tuesday, May 09, 2023

How I Learned to Suffer Fools Gladly

 May 9, 2023

   About fifteen years ago I had the good misfortune to be humiliated by a very famous Hollywood actress. We were both backstage at Westworld in Scottsdale and I saw her standing alone, and thought I would at least say hi and introduce myself.

   It did not go well. My well-intentioned greeting and rejoinder was met with a stony silence and a look that told me loud and clear I was not welcome in her space and if I knew what was good for me, I would leave her general presence post haste. And, so I did, and I must admit, my head felt like it had shrunk to the size of a small pea and I was sure it was throbbing like a distressed tulip. Like most humans, I chalked it up to her being as an egotistical bitch and I did not clap when we were both on stage and she was introduced to the adoring crowd. In fact, for years afterward when she appeared on our TV screen, I would flip her off. But then, something happened that changed my mind completely.

The History of Suffering Fools Gladly

   "The phrase originally came from William Tyndale’s 1534 translation of the Bible. In it, Paul was ripping into the decadent citizens of Corinth for turning away from his own authoritative teaching and falling for a bunch of second-rate false apostles. 'For ye suffers fool gladly,' Paul says with withering sarcasm, “seeing ye yourselves are wise.'

   "Today, the phrase is often used as an ambiguous compliment. It suggests that a person is so smart he has trouble tolerating people who are far below his own high standards. It is used to describe a person who is so passionately committed to a vital cause that he doesn’t have time for social niceties toward those idiots who stand in its way. It is used to suggest a level of social courage; a person who has the guts to tell idiots what he really thinks.

   "This sounds fine in the abstract, but when you actually witness somebody in the act of not suffering fools gladly, it looks rotten. . .

   "G. K. Chesterton had the best advice on suffering fools gladly. He put emphasis on the gladly. When you’re with fools, laugh with them and at them simultaneously: “An obvious instance is that of ordinary and happy marriage. A man and a woman cannot live together without having against each other a kind of everlasting joke. Each has discovered that the other is a fool, but a great fool. This largeness, this grossness and gorgeousness of folly is the thing which we all find about those with whom we are in intimate contact; and it is the one enduring basis of affection, and even of respect.” 

—David Brooks in The New York Times  

   I think it's safe to say, we all have snubbed people who we thought were fools, or, dare I say—beneath us—but after I got that cold snub from Shirley Jones at Westworld, I vowed to never do that to another human being, ever. So that was a very good lesson for me.

Thankyou, Shirley Jones!

   Today, I am totally fine with suffering fools gladly. My only wish is that some of their stories were a tad shorter.

"In my experience, Midwesterners are more likely to treat fools well."

—David Brooks


  1. Anonymous7:23 PM

    That's still no excuse for her poor attitude toward you. I don't think she's done much since the Partridge Family and she wasn't great on that.

    1. Anonymous11:04 AM

      And she didn't even dance for the dance sequence in "Oklahoma" (exteriors shot in AZ) IIRC.

  2. Anonymous4:11 AM

    Thank you…very inspiring!

  3. Anonymous8:57 AM

    At least you did get revenge by posting a picture of her in which she looks like an older Bela Lugosi LOL

  4. Anonymous9:36 AM

    I think you snubbed me once so you have no right to attack her. It takes one to n
    know one Bob!!


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