“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
~ William Shakespeare (1564—1616), “As You Like It,” Act 5 scene 1
“Never argue with a fool. Listeners can’t tell which is which.”
A few years back, it was a somewhat enjoyable way to pass time by surfing the Internet, find an interesting topic, and writing a comment in the Reader’s Comment Section. I thought it seemed a great way for the Internet to open the world to the people an allow them to get in their ideas and thoughts. That kind of thinking by me didn’t last very long. The comments on these sites became more and more weighted to the “idea” side than on the “thoughts” part of the bargain. Unfortunately, there are too many narrow-minded sorts that must be included whenever referring to “the people.” Looking at the Reader’s Comments section soon became a chore. It became this source of great frustration because, in my confusion, I had thought that these Reader’s Comment’s Section were for exchange of intelligent conversation; a place where civil discourse could occur; a new Zeitalter der Aufklärung — A new Age of Enlightenment!
Well, duh! You can’t ask me, “What were you smoking?” because I stopped smoking dope a long time ago. So, as has often been the case — you guessed it — I was wrong again. The Reader’s Comment Sections soon became cockfights of drunken confusion and a shrieking cacophony of noise where people, who obviously hadn’t a clue as to the subject at hand, would add in their nonsensical remarks, twisted logic, or personal attacks.
I don’t go to those kinds of places anymore.
“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.”
~ Plato (427 BC—347 BC)
“Nothing is more like a wise man than a fool who holds his tongue.”
~ Saint Francis de Sales (1567—1622)
I am often reminded of this odious memory when I receive mails from kind readers at this site. I am not saying that the readers send in their crazed chicken to battle mine, but they often recall their own little cockfights near home. They relate about battles that did not occur in the Reader’s Comment Section on an Internet site. No! They recant wars that occurred at the Reader’s Comment Section of the Real World: local bars, restaurants, parties, family get-togethers; places where, suspiciously, alcohol might be involved.
Some tell me about fights or near fights with confused brutes over some topic — they weren’t important, so I cannot recall what they were — and how the reader left said establishment fearing for their lives. Recently, a few others have told me about how they almost had a Shooting War on their hands in the local pub in Whatsitdiggit (or was it Hickstonia?) over the false reporting in America over Georgia instigating a Hot War with Russia. Others related stories about nearly getting into fisticuffs because they related my scribbling on how China won the Olympics.
Please folks, there is nothing that I could ever write, nor is there anything on the Internet, anywhere, that should place you into the position whereby you feel you need to risk your personal health and safety in a public place in order to educate someone.
"Seek and you shall find."
~ Matthew 7:7—8
Trust that there are many places to discuss, in a gentlemanly fashion, the topics of the day. In a bar, amongst strangers is probably not one of them. Unfortunately, family gatherings are also not good places.
“All of the significant battles of life are waged within the self.”
~ Zen Quote
“If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?"
~ Zen Quote
It’s probably a pretty safe assumption to realize that anyone over 30 is pretty much set in their ways. Yes, some do get an education and are taught to think analytically. But this seems to be the exception, rather than the rule. Our public school system is not teaching this and people are not getting correct information from the TV. Humans, in general, are lazy, I think. It requires effort to learn new ideas and new ways to look at things. For most people, why bother? They know no different and believe the TV verbatim. And who can blame them? Most people are working for the weekends. That’s it. You probably can’t change that.
These people are set in their ways. They certainly are not going to change 40 years of conditioning within 30-minutes of talking to you.
“Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.”
~ Euripides (484 BC—406 BC)
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t also try to change people’s perceptions. But very few of us are of the stature of a Lew Rockwell, Butler Shaffer, Gary North, Pat Buchanan, or a Justin Raimondo. Also, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of being a good public speaker. If you are not a good speaker, very polite, eloquent, and articulate, it’s probably not a good idea to be loudly proclaiming this or that to strangers who have been drinking.
I am a professional speaker. But I am too often unclear of all the facets of any particular issue, so I find it’s best to be quiet and not discuss politics unless it is among a very tight-knit group of close friends. I would never do this drinking among strangers.
If I’m going to work myself into a huff about the sheer stupidity and hypocrisy of what Bush and the American Military Industrial Complex is doing, I’ll sit at home and drink by myself. It’s cheaper and safer.
What’s the point, my friend’s, of getting all worked up about this insanity or that and risk getting beat up, shot, or even killed? Things are the way they are. You can read. You understand. Prepare for the coming troubles and protect your family. Why bother trying to save the world by arguing with ill-educated fools? Take care of your own. Understand that and you can live much more happily and much more peaceably.
Remember what Charles Simmons said, “Ridicule is the first and last argument of fools.” Trust that when the ridicule begins, flying fists are not far behind.
“To infinity and beyond”
~ Buzz Lightyear
Nowadays, I rarely bother to read the Reader’s Comments Sections on the Internet. I also rarely drink outside of home. Nor do I ever discuss politics except with but a handful of friends — Never to strangers. I find it much more stimulating, creative, fun, and healthy to discuss topics with my 4-year-old, oil paint, or to scribble notes like this one.
Don’t laugh. It’s probably not all that difficult to find a 4-year-old who can come up with more intelligent and sage comments than 70% of the reader comments in the Reader’s Comment Section on an Internet site or what Joe Six-Pack has to say at your local Moe’s. Arguing with a 4-year-old requires skill. If you’re not careful, they might start crying. If you handle it well, it will be great fun and good laughs for the both of you.
My son and I debated today, “Who is stronger? Darth Vader from Star Wars or Pokemon?” My son insists that Pokemon is stronger because, “Pokemon has Lightening Power and Fire Power; Darth Vader only has a light saber.” Ha! I laughed. I told my son, “Darth Vader is much stronger than Pokemon, because Pokemon is a cartoon. Darth Vader is a real movie!”
When you really stop to think about it, this kind of an argument with a 4-year-old is a lot more logical, humorous, interesting, and better for your health; both psychologically and physically, than arguing with a stranger in a bar. An argument about politics with strangers is risky and no one will come out the winner. Everyone has an opinion.
Whether or not Russia is worse than Georgia, or whether or not China won the Olympics; I don’t need to convince atheists of the existence of God. I know what I believe.
More than an argument with strangers in a public bar, or ruining what should be a pleasant family get-together, I highly recommend spending fun time with your kids or grandkids good-humoredly arguing about things like whether a whale is stronger than an elephant. It’s much more fun; it brings you closer together; it teaches them something; and it’s one heck of a better memory than running from a restaurant fearing for your life.
Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He is the president of a mass-media production company and also runs a talent agency in Japan. He is now the Producer/Director/Co-host of Good Morning Garage, the most popular FM radio morning show in Tokyo. His book, Schizophrenic in Japan, went on sale in 2005.