This post is in response to a post on another blog I read and follow–http://momastery.com/blog/2012/12/12/to-all-the-confounders/
“I must learn to love the fool in me–the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of my human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my Fool.” – Theodore Isaac Rubin (born 1923); psychiatrist, author
The more I’ve thought about this quote, the more I’ve come to *loathe* it. I mean, I really really dislike this quote.
First off, “love” is a very nebulous and seductive-sounding word. Here, it appears to mean feed or indulge, not educate, better, guide, improve, help. Indulging foolishness seems fairly foolish.
Then there’s the part in there that reads “It alone.” Think about it—it alone—as in ALONE, as in *only*, as in there’s no two ways about it, there’s no other explanation, there’s no other possible way or route; this is it; it’s this way or the highway.
People really ought to be careful with their words. With their choice of words. Especially a psychiatrist.
Think about it—is this really true? Is it my inner fool who lacks self-control—the promise-making and then breaking, tantrum throwing, I want what I want and I want it now and I don’t care how much it costs and who I have to hurt in order to get it, part of me—the childishly irresponsible part of me—my “id” (in Freudian parlance)—is that the *only* thing (“it alone”) that will protect me from becoming a total killjoy and inwardly lifeless s.o.b. and control freak?
No. Not a chance.
Jesus said: “Do unto others as you would want done unto you” (Matthew 7:12). In other words, act in a way towards others that is consistent with how you would want and expect another or others to act towards you.
And actually, that addendum solves it. Case closed. If I add that to the mix of what Rubin said, then that will save me (“protect me”) against “that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of my human aliveness, humility, and dignity” *and* it will also save others—and myself—from much of my Fool, as well.
Because another variation of “doing unto others as I would want done unto myself” is reversing it: “doing unto myself what I would want others to do unto me.”
I wouldn’t want others to treat me in an utterly controlling and tyrannical way, so why would I let myself (or part of myself) treat myself (or another part of myself) (and, yep, getting a bit confusing) that way?
If I truly love myself, then I don’t rip myself a new one and wag my finger at myself every time I do something foolish. I don’t unleash a barrage of hateful self-talk . . . “John, you no good, stupid idiot complete failure of a human being, you did it again. You did something foolish and it bit you in the butt, you complete loser. You deserve to be unhappy and unloved and die alone and in the worst way imaginable. You’re an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable—and all mangled up and tangled up in knots.”
No, what I do is I correct myself in a kinder and more compassionate and supportive way. . . . “Uh oh, John, you messed up this time. So let’s see what we can do to clean up this mess and make amends and repair the hurt we caused and learn from the experience.” Et cetera, et cetera.
That’s not my “Fool” saving myself from my inner and “utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant.”
It’s something else saving me from both of these extremes—and from thinking in terms of either-or and falling preying to (letting my mental life be overrun and invaded by) “legions of half-truths, prejudices, propaganda” (to echo Martin Luther King Jr).
And that something is called being truly educated, meaning learning *how* to think, and at that, how to think critically. As King put it, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.” (It’s a short but very wise essay. Well worth the minute or two it would take to read it, and the many more minutes to really think on it. http://www.drmartinlutherkingjr.com/thepurposeofeducation.htm)
Think about it: have you (anyone reading this) liked the effects of the behaviors of someone else’s “Fool”? Wouldn’t you secretly prefer that they had at times a bit more self-control and had kept their inner-Fool in check so it didn’t walk into your life and soil it all up?
And how do you (anyone reading this) really feel when your Fool does something hurtful to others? How do you really feel? Good? Proud? Justified? Making the world a better place? (I’m just loving and honoring my inner-Fool y’all, sorry you got in her way and got hurt. Sucks to be you.)
And looking at the state of the world today, does anyone really think that part of the solution to the world’s and society’s problems is that people in general act more foolish, make more promises without really thinking about them and then break those promises, act selfishly, thoughtlessly, self-indulgently?
How does “universalizing” Rubin’s words and advice make the world a truly better place? (“Universalizing” means seeing how things—i.e., in this case, a piece of advice, because that is in fact what Glennon is offering up—would play out on a larger scale, meaning if *everybody* employed it or acted in alignment with it. This is a basic test of the moral-ness of an action or a piece of advice—what would the world be like—better or worse—if everyone did x or y, or if everyone lived a certain way.)
So is this really the key to making the world a better place?—telling people to lighten up, feed their fool, conning them into thinking that this is what changes the world for the better. —It’s not. Growing and developing our consciences is what really changes the world—think Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, the Dalai Lama, Thoreau, Gandhi, even Jesus. These people were human beings of profound and revolutionary conscience. And they educated those around them and even us to this day (those of us who still read them and reflect on their words, instead of stuffing our minds with most of what is being published today) on what Love and moral goodness really looked and acted like.
That’s what truly changes the world for the better—a profound and very humane and wise conscience.
That’s what’s truly precious. That’s what we ought to focus on and grow and nourish and feed with good music and art and friends and conversation and whatever it takes—our consciences, our über-ich, that still small voice within us, the voice of God within us, the Advocate, the Paraclete, our wise Inner Teacher and discerner of what is good for us and what is nonsense for us and the world.
“It is not the tempest, nor the earthquake, nor the fire, but the still small voice of the Spirit that carries on the glorious work of saving souls.” – Robert Murray Mccheyne
“Conscience is that still, small voice that is sometimes too loud for comfort.” – Bert Murray
“The only tyrant I accept in this world is the ‘still small voice’ within.” – Gandhi
“The human voice can never reach the distance that is covered by the still small voice of conscience.” – Gandhi
“Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune.” – Carl Jung
“What are conscience! I’ll tell ya! A conscience is that still small voice that people won’t listen to. That’s just the trouble with the world today.” – Jiminy Cricket, in “Pinocchio”
I agree much more with Jiminy Cricket and Gandhi and King than I do with Theodore Rubin (as well-meaning as he might have been with his advice, it still seems to me to be very misguided).
What about YOU? Where do you stand? —Or better put—when push comes to shove, who do you stand with, who do you aspire to stand with and become? —Your inner-Fool? Your inner-“utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant”? Or your still small voice?