“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.” “And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.” There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
Joana, the heroine of the movie “Agnosia”, suffers from a peculiar illness. She’s blind but not because she sees nothing but because she sees too much. Her mind has no filter and her little brain is constantly flooded with the stimuli it cannot process. As a result, she’s in the state of permanent confusion, not able to recognize people and objects around her. One would think that if you see more, you’re wiser. Not in the case of Joana, though. Her problematic “gift” cripples her, she cannot even walk properly. You can almost pity her when you see her crawling on the bathroom floor.
Her father produces unique lens for telescopes. Before he dies, he tells Joana his industrial secret. For her, it’s only a string of meaningless numbers but it’s a treasure for her father’s enemies. When he dies, they use her deplorable condition to extract the secret from her. As Joana sees and doesn’t see at the same time, she’s not aware of the dangerous conspiracy going around her. Her mind, preoccupied with the insignificant details, can’t see the bigger picture, can’t focus on what is the most important. As a result, her father’s empire is taken over, her relationship with her fiance is destroyed and, finally, she dies shot at the steps to the cathedral.
A petty mind is like a weapon in the hands of a madman. You can never know the day and the hour when it strikes but you can sense the approaching disaster. If you take a ride with a staggering drunkard, you can be damn sure it will be your last ride. The same is with someone who has his head up his ass. If you give in to your own delusions or the bullshit narratives of other people, you will have to pay, if not now, then in months, years or even decades.
You can delude yourself that you are a special snowflake, that you are better and smarter than others. If you can’t see further than the end of your nose, if you can’t predict the consequences of your actions, if you live only here and now, you are a mere pawn on that chessboard called life.
Some time ago, there was a big scandal in Poland that triggered a national debate about religious freedom, the rights of doctors and patients and democracy, in general. A respectable doctor refused to perform an abortion of a terminally ill child because of his Catholic views. That was hardly surprising, because he had a legal right to do this, however, he also had a legal obligation to send a woman to another doctor. He not only didn’t do this but also lied to the woman that her child was healthy. When she finally learned her child was going to die, it was too late for an abortion. The doctor was punished but it hardly compensated for the woman’s false hopes and her suffering while she watched her child die.
Many Catholics tried to make a martyr out of the doctor, saying that he was loyal to his Church, that he followed the rules of his faith, they quoted the pope and the Saints, and atheists, as usual, blamed the religion for close-mindedness of its adherents. It’s a pity that the doctor forgot the most important imperative of his faith – to see God in another human being. Seeing “God” in another person is nothing more or less than simple human empathy, the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, to feel what she feels, to understand what she thinks and how she may suffer.
There is a fundamental truth in the words “The kingdom of God is within you.” If its religious meaning is put aside, then it simply means that the depth of your mind is the source of wisdom, the unconscious mind that is the dwelling of intuition and the deep empathic understanding of things.
The corruption of knowledge
Knowledge can be found in books and in the heads of other people. It’s easy to lose wisdom in the stream of facts and insignificant details. Other people’s ideas are like the noise which deafens you to the barely audible inner voice of wisdom. Studying will never replace experience and there can be no insight without being in tune with other people.
As there are many narrow paths to wisdom, there are also many highways to stupidity. Just like a cockroach infesting the poor and the luxurious kitchens, stupidity doesn’t care about a religious label. Neither does it care about a social status or a university degree.
The swines and the pearls
It’s been said many times that the nine Satanic sins are the sins against reality. They are punished neither by God nor the Devil, but by life. If you try to build castles in the sky, you risk that, eventually, you will be dragged down to face the desert of the real.
One of such sins is solipsism; deluding yourself that other people share your views and values, that they understand your more or less lofty ideas. Most people are mediocre and even if they appear to be intelligent, it’s because their heads are full of other people’s ideas. Talking to them is like throwing the pearls before the swines. If you try to be honest with them, if you open your heart, they will crucify you or, worse, drag you down to their level of petty and pathetic bullshit.
That some things should be left unsaid was well understood by women in the past, who locked their diaries in safe and secret places. It wasn’t so much the fear of compromise as the awareness of the fact that most people are prone to passing judgements without even bothering to understand. Talking to such people is like talking to the wall. Whatever you say will fall on deaf ears.
While the wise look at the horizon, the fools sit on the beach counting the grains of sand. It’s a prerogative of an idiot to take everything under his magnifying glass, to adhere to his religion, ideology or philosophy with an unshaken pedantic scrupulosity. In that way, the things that are really important get lost among the things that only appear to be important. Like T.S. Eliot wrote, we lose wisdom in knowledge and knowledge in information. Sometimes, reason can make us blind, like the poor Rabbit, like poor Joana and many others.