“Life is tough, but it’s tougher when
you’re stupid.” — John Wayne


It’s surprising hearing Wayne
confirm this, from first hand experience, one might assume. Socrates said, “The
only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Since knowing nothing
and being stupid are pretty close to being equivalent, maybe Wayne had true wisdom, as a compensating
virtue. The interesting notion is that knowing nothing and true wisdom can
possibly co-exist. Sigmund Freud added to the critical perspective when he
said, “What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of
the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.” You can take the word
of no less authority than Freud and John Wayne. Stupidity, knowing nothing,
feeble mindedness, and wisdom may inhabit the same soul. That’s likely why
Woodrow Wilson advised, “We should not only use the brains we have, but all
that we can borrow.”


“Wisdom” seems to be the key to figuring out how this works,
since being stupid, being feeble minded, and knowing nothing are clear enough.
Elbert Hubbard offered a clue when he said, “Every man is a damn fool for at
least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.”
Sure, “damn fool” gets added to stupid, etc. but Hubbard hints at a way out of
the denseness. Limit how often you are stupid, feeble minded, know nothing, and
are generally being a damn fool. Yes, this kind of self control is tough but,
as St. Augustine
said, “Patience is the companion of wisdom.” The choice is between wisdom and
stupidity; and although you can be a damn fool right away, wisdom may take a
while. For that, you will need to be patient.


What do you do while you are being patient? Doug Larson
suggested, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d
have preferred to talk.” There it is. Listen and learn. Wisdom will come in its
own time, if you are patient and resist the temptation to be a damn fool.