Fools fascinate me. Fools are invaluable to our society because they have a knack for exposing the numbskulls who, for some incomprehensible reason, end up in positions of influence in our most important institutions.I’m not out to bash our leaders wholesale. I am, however, out to extol the virtue of divergent thinking in the service of getting at the truth we must confront to make good decisions.
In medieval times, fool was a licensed profession of sorts. In some cases fools were used merely for entertainment. But some monarchs and rulers used the fool, or jester, to bring up the absurd counterpoints that others were too afraid to mention for fear of costing them their head.
Our current day fools are the comedians who spoof the actions of political figures, celebrities, and those at the helms of business, educational, and religious institutions.
Fools change the direction of our thinking
Why? Because the fools invariably see the truthful nuances and absurdities we either don’t see, or don’t want to see. Fools expose the disastrous effects of numbskullery on our institutions and on our freedom and tolerance.
Margaret Heffernan’s comment from her TED Talk, Dare to disagree, struck me as especially poignant (click here to view).
“The truth won’t set us free until we develop the skills and the habit and the talent and the moral courage to use it.”
Fools possess that skill, talent, and moral courage.
The stand up comic often finds himself or herself being a stand up leader who is INPowered2 LEAD, by speaking a truth through humor. First we laugh; then, we think. Sometimes that leads to action that changes the landscape.
Comedian, Steve Martin, defined a joke as, “complete knowledge in a nanosecond.” Like the time I heard a local fool in my community say of a hometown political kingmaker, “If you aren’t under his thumb, you’re under his skin.” Complete knowledge in a nanosecond.
Sometimes, a stand up leader must accept the brunt of a fool’s truth directed at them. Like the medieval ruler who was smart enough to recognize the truth veiled in humor, and act on it to change the landscape.
Everybody needs a fool
“It’s no accident that AHA and HAHA are spelled almost the same way.” – Mitch Ditkoff
Those who can make us laugh at ourselves are some of the best friends we can have. They help us relax the tension that comes from taking ourselves too seriously. When we loosen up, we release the creative juices to explore the possibilities we would otherwise squelch.