Before we talk about any specific fool or genius, how would you define fool? Most connotations of “fool” are negative: stupid, small-minded, and ignorant. Is being labeled a fool limited to such a small definition? There are college graduates who have traveled the world in the 20th century who believe the Earth is flat. There are uneducated people who have never left the city they were born in who believe the Earth is round. There are caring, loving, hard-working, church-going people who do not accept all forms of lifestyles in society. There are caring, loving, hard-working people who do not accept any form of religion. Someone may be a genius in school, yet incompetent with socializing and communicating with people and vice-a-versa. Everyone is stupid, small-minded, and ignorant from different perspectives to some degree. Trying to be everything to everybody can make you nothing to yourself. Regardless of education, cultural background, career, or financial situation, fools are as vast and limitless.
There is a great article, “What are five types of fools?”, at the Institute in Basic Life Principles that describes simple, silly, sensual, scorning, and steadfast fools from the perspective of the Bible. While the article discusses the five types of fools, it does not entertain if someone could be a combination of more than one type of fool. Are all fools cast into Hell? Are there no fools in Heaven? If a fool is self-aware, does that make them wise? If you believe in God, would it not be true that the wisest man is still but a fool before God? To assume oneself to be above all foolishness would make for a prideful, pretentious, or arrogant fool.
There is a saying “A fool and their money are soon parted”, but there are plenty of rich fools. Perhaps the saying should read, “a gullible fool and their money are soon parted.” A cunning fool might overcome someone wise. With the billions of people on the planet, surely there are more than five types of fools. Fools can be categorized and grouped with as many adjectives as there is to describe human nature. There is a Chinese tale of a persistent old fool who moved a mountain, “The Foolish Old Man Who Moved The Mountains.” A fool has a unique ability to put on blinders and walk a path facing great adversity that has never been traveled before. Whether the fool is brave, ignorant, or indifferent, a single-minded focused fool will not be deterred by logic or reason. Unfettered by normal restraints, greatness is the reward behind the mystery door that that wise are unable to unlock. It is this indifference that allows fools to bend and forge a new reality.
As the negativity from the word “fool” has been stripped to merely be a label synonymous to “person”, there are quite a few dangerous fools in history and modern times that have caused horrific injustices. The descriptors of a fool make all the difference in life. A harmless fool does not affect you one way or the other. An indifferent fool will see you struggle, gasping for life, and not lift a finger to help. Society conditions you to believe the obedient fool is rewarded and the disobedient fool is punished, but the powerful fool makes the rules. Power is just a tool – it is neither good nor bad. The powerful fool changes the rules to suit their interests. Power can corrupt and easily amplify violent, vengeful, hateful, and selfish characteristics. When given blind authority to cause death and destruction, a fool knows no bound and has no regard for the damages caused by their actions.
Could being mocked and ridiculed and called a fool put you amongst a cast of greatness? Turning an offensive term to a compliment is all a matter of perspective. When a genius is so far ahead of their time, commoners see all of their actions as dangerous or foolish, until a great turning point occurs. All of the revolutionary evolutions in history has at its core the thoughts and dreams of a fool. When you think of great figures in history, they were all unpopular until their ideas were proven to be right. Some of the great never saw their vision or reality to come to fruition during their life. In many cases, it was after their death when their impact on the world was felt the most. What a fool Vincent Van Gogh may have felt like to die poor and having sold only one painting for 400 francs while he was alive. Leonardo Davinci, Christopher Columbus, Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright Brothers, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Dr. Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs, and the list goes on.
Let’s discuss Steve Jobs, who is credited with pioneering the iPhone and the advancements in mobile technology. Before the iPhone, it was inconceivable to have a vast collection of thousands of songs stored in a small affordable device. Perhaps the most memorable quote from Steve Jobs is “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” While many regarded him as a genius, that self-reflective quote most likely summed up a crowning result of relentless foolishness at its core. Comedians revel in wielding the power of foolishness to entice people’s attention to consuming their products, brand, and craft. Bill Burr eloquently expresses the humor of how the birth of the iPhone evolved into the reality that we live today.
Admin. “What Are Five Types of Fools?” Institute in Basic Life Principles, 30 Jan. 2014, iblp.org/questions/what-are-five-types-fools.
Tang, Ian. “The Foolish Old Man Who Moved The Mountains.” Medium, Medium, 16 Sept. 2016, medium.com/@iantang/the-foolish-old-man-who-moved-the-mountains-bc88b735c83c.
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