Some time ago, back when Barack Obama was still president, I read that one of the phrases that guided the workings of his White House was “don’t do stupid stuff”.
I remember thinking something like: “you could come up with a more inspiring principle than that.” In fact, the article detailed that his then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argued that “great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”
Still, successive events and governments have showed that “don’t do stupid stuff” is not an altogether bad motto after all, haven’t they?
If we didn’t do stupid stuff, it would already be a big progress. “Stupid stuff” could break the trust of someone we love. Could put children in harm’s way. Could squander fortunes and reputations. Could trade a life legacy for a moment’s whim.
True, one could formulate more compelling life philosophies than “don’t do stupid stuff.” But it’s a good starting point.
The book of Proverbs in the Bible uses the category of “avoiding foolishness” to address this apparently insignificant part of wisdom.
Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. (Proverbs 29:11)
Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2)
Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. (Proverbs 28:26)
As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. (Proverbs 26:11)
Other Wondering Fair articles may contain more profound reflections. For today, I thought of just leaving this question on the table.
Is there anything stupid you feel tempted to do?
Don’t do anything stupid.