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Loud Mouthed Rulers and Fools!

It is reported that Oliver Wendell Holmes once attended a meeting in which he was the shortest man present. "Dr. Holmes," quipped a friend. "I should think you'd feel rather small among us big fellows." Without missing a beat, Holmes shot back, "Oh, I do. I feel like a dime among a bunch of pennies." The story reminds us big people sometimes come in small bodies and that we really ought not to judge a book by its cover. Consider a situation described by King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:13-17. A great king with a mighty army attacked a small, weak city with few defenders. Solomon gives little detail about the incident, but he reports "there was found in it [the city] a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man" (vs 15). Solomon went on to observe, "Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, And his words are not heard. Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard Rather than the shout of a ruler of fools." Solomon reminds us of a disturbing tendency in human society — people are very often more impressed with style than substance and with image more than intelligence. There is a dangerous tendency to attach great weight to what someone says simply because of who they are and the position they occupy rather than the actual content of what they say. In short, the messenger becomes more important than the message. We get so caught up in the persona of the one speaking we fail to closely scrutinize what they say and ask us to believe. Solomon's concern is that wisdom and truth may get shouted down by one he describes as a "ruler of fools." Is it possible the views so often and so loudly expressed these days on political, social and moral issues are often nothing more than "the shouts of a ruler of fools" — along with the shouts of the fools he/she rules?! Solomon's words remind me of a statement by Anatole France (French poet, journalist, and novelist [1844-1924]) — "If fifty million people say a foolish thing it is still a foolish thing." Conversely, wisdom is wise and truth is true even when unpopular and shouted down by a ruler of fools.

These days, sadly, wisdom/truth is often shouted down by a ruler of fools and the fools he/she rules. Millions line up behind popular celebrities and TV personalities who speak with great volume not only on presidential politics and foreign policy, but also on such topics as abortion, homosexuality, marriage, divorce, and other important moral issues. We should not fear or resist a robust public discussion of such issues. We should fear when those in power (cultural or political or even religious) are believed simply on the basis of position, popularity, and personality instead of the truthfulness of what they say. It is sad when the shouts of "rulers of fools" are heard and respected for their moral views on topics like abortion, homosexuality, greed, sexuality, etc., not because what they say is right (they are often very wrong), but because of their position and popularity. May God help us hear the quiet voice of His wisdom instead of the shouts of prominent and popular but morally foolish people who regard neither Him nor His word.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ