To the Editor, from Wisdom for Life


In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, you’ll find a repeated contrast between two kinds of people. It’s an ancient contrast played out daily in every culture and it appeared in bold form at the vice presidential debate.

The contrast involves a kind of person for whom there is very little hope. This man (or woman) places himself beyond the reach of instruction, counsel and correction because he is wise in his own eyes. Efforts to correct him are useless because he knows better than others. He will insist that he is right even when the facts betray him because being right is necessary to his narcissistic outlook on life.

Meet the fool. He is the kind of person you don’t want your children to become. There is some hope for a fool to change but, if he plunges deeply enough into his foolishness, hope dissipates as he could become a scoffer or mocker. The scoffer is a fool on steroids. He moves from seeing no need for your counsel, to mocking viewpoints that oppose his own with condescending ridicule. To elevate himself, he belittles those who see things differently. Occasionally, he conceals his smugness with a feigned but thinly veiled politeness. Yet he can easily be smoked out of his corner when offered even small measures of correction. If there is little hope for the fool, there is no hope for a scoffing mocker.

Then there is another character who emerges from the book of Proverbs. He is the opposite of the fool and the scoffer. Although a man of deep conviction, he is open to instruction, counsel and correction. He is even willing to receive rebuke. Words are not wasted on him for he is humble and respectful of others. He is continuously increasing in knowledge and understanding. He holds deeply to truth as he grows in wisdom. Meet the wise man. You want to become this kind of person. The repeated warnings offer the contrast: “Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still…” (Proverbs 9:8-9).

Now to enter potentially controversial territory. In the vice presidential debate, we saw the characteristics of the fool and the mocker in scoffing laughter, mocking condescension, smug and arrogant tones with finger-pointing and scolding, feigned uses of “friend” disguising thinly veiled hostility, etc… I realize that debates are not necessarily cordial but I felt that the bar of respect could have been raised much higher. Would we allow these behaviors and attitudes in high school debates?

Steve Cornell


  1. Joe Biden is a senile old fool who needs to be packed off to the old folks home.

  2. There are a lot of Biblical principles that need to be applied to this election, contrasting foolishness and wisdom is just the tip of the iceberg. We hear of constant threats against the evil rich of confiscating their wealth when we have forgotten that coveting is wrong. We hear of people selecting a candidate because he is or is not of a particular ethnicity when we need to be reminded that with God there is neither Jew nor Gentile, Bond nor Free, Man nor Woman, and you could insert Black nor White. We are warned that we will receive leaders we deserve if forget God and the practice of morality, I sure hope we don’t deserve more of what we’ve had!

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