Bob Tamasy: Fools, Folly, Foolishness And Other Fun Stuff

  • Monday, April 1, 2024
  • Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Happy April Fool’s Day! Based on what we typically see on the news day after day, one might think this deserves to become another national holiday. But for now, it’s just a silly day for little pranks and tricks with no treats.

No one knows for certain the origin of April Fool’s Day, but it’s been observed in many parts of the world for centuries. Some say it dates back to the 16th century; others claim the observance can be traced back to ancient Rome. No matter. It’s clearly an age-old tradition that “honors” a human trait having no national or cultural barriers: Foolishness.

For the most part it’s just a time for harmless trickery. “Hey, your shoelace is untied!” You look down and realize you’re wearing loafers or sandals. “April Fool!” Deftly affixing a sign on someone’s back that says, “Kick me!” Bogus news reports: “The Pope is converting to Judaism.”

Sadly, even without the fanfare, every day has been “fool’s day” since the beginning of time. It all started when the serpent asked Adam and Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Then it proceeded to assure them, “You will not surely die…. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5). Wow, did they play the fool! Humankind has been struggling with being fooled ever since.

An old proverb states, “A fool and his money are soon parted,” and there’s no doubt of its veracity. Many of us have learned that lesson at least once. Abraham Lincoln sagely noted, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” I hope that’s still true.

Henry David Thoreau offered the view, “Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.” Can you think of any recent examples? Then we have a classic from a 1546 collection of proverbs, “There’s no fool like an old fool.” I hope I never resemble that remark.

If you want to find substantial commentary about fools, folly and foolishness, there’s no better place to look than the Bible. There are many verses in the Old Testament book of Proverbs that speak about them. They address the foolishness of laziness; being lured by sexual temptation; speaking rashly before thinking; infidelity; ignoring necessary correction and rebuke; selfishness; unrestrained anger, and a host of other topics.

Entire chapters in Proverbs are devoted to the contrast between wise and foolish thinking and actions. We could cite many passages, but Proverbs 14:8 kind of sums them up: “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.”

Mark Twain, ever a master of clever word play, famously observed, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” I think it’s stated even better in Proverbs 17:28, written thousands of years earlier: “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.”

An extended passage describes a young man’s encounter with a woman “dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent…. With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter…” (Proverbs 7:6-27). We can apply the warning of this passage not just to sexual sin, but also to being enticed by immoral or unethical behavior in any form.

One of the “wisdom books” of the Bible, Proverbs presents us with truths and insights worth reading over and over. Consisting of 31 chapters, it’s a good exercise to read one chapter a day for an entire month. Then, as I have, the reader might well decide it’s worth reading again for another month – or more.

However, the subject of fools and foolishness in the Scriptures isn’t limited to Proverbs. Perhaps the sternest denunciation of fools and their foolishness is found in the book of Psalms. It’s so serious that Psalm 14 and Psalm 53, which have almost identical wording, both start with the same words, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” As if to say, “In case you missed it the first time….”

Some who read this might think, ‘How intolerant! How judgmental!’ However, this statement isn’t from a book written by a human author, or a speech given from a podium. It comes from the Word of God, and it’s been my experience that His opinion carries a lot more weight than mine – or anyone else’s.

If believing there is no God is foolishness, what’s the remedy? The Scriptures tell us that as well. Jeremiah 17:5-7 declares, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord…. But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” Similarly, Psalm 144:15 asserts, “blessed are the people whose God is the Lord.”

So, if you like, have a bit of fun this April Fool’s Day with a harmless prank or two. But when it comes to matters of faith, it’s no time for foolishness.

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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