The April Fool

Depiction of a jester by William Merritt Chase

The first meaning for the Free Dictionary definition of “fool” is “One who is deficient in judgment, sense, or understanding” (  As I can surely attest from experience (as seen in my attempt at cat wrangling), one can surely encounter this without a great deal of extra effort.  Further, to be a “fool” can also mean to trick or dupe someone, or to believe that which is not true.  For April Fool’s day, most likely, you may have the misfortune to encounter this idea in principle and action.

But to be a fool goes much further than those superlatives.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said in his essays on “Self Reliance” that a “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” No doubt he recognized the lengths to which those who are intellectually dishonest, morally vacuous, and politically motivated, to perpetuate and promote actions and lines of reasoning for no other purpose than their own enrichment and/or to deny others privileges and rewards to which they might otherwise be entitled.  Some do so earnestly, without self-reflection or analysis, perhaps driven by another meaning of fool, which is to “[subvert] convention or orthodoxy or [vary] from social conformity in order to reveal spiritual or moral truth.”  Whether that “truth” is a bold faced lie, or not, means nothing.  The idea that doubt exists is ample evidence that the principle behind the idea is without merit or plausibility.  Such one-dimensional thinking is also, apparently, a one-directional.  Others are simply “wrong” or “deluded”; there is no ability or motivation to find fault with ones own argument, or even to entertain self-reflection.  Rather such people answer resistance to their “facts” with reliance on arrogance and through self-satisfied repetition, insisting they are right and everyone else is wrong to avoid the effort to put forth a plausible argument, or a timely discussion of the issues.

Sadly, we live a time in our country’s history, where being a “fool” is a platform for being a leader, with an electorate which demands to be “duped” or “tricked” into believing “truths” which are unsupported, unsustainable, and without merit.  As long as we continue to talk over each other, listen without questioning, and read without understanding, we will be doomed live the life of a fool – led from pillar to post, from one inane suggestion and rationalization to another without consideration for consequences, intended or not.

So this April, resolve to not readily accept what you are told without understanding or questioning the logic behind it.  If you are to be a fool, let it be because you made an effort to not be one, not because you willingly stamped it on your own forehead.