While visiting England in 1976 I was sitting on a bus, lower deck and an old man sat down in the spot next to mine. He looked at me for a long 30 seconds, his eyes unblinking, red and tired looking. I tried to hold his gaze, but I had to blink and then with a wry smile his eyes blinked and with feeling in his voice he said, “There is nothing so great as a well-conceived folly”
I gave him a quizzical look and stammered out a polite thank you, but he was already on the move to his next objective. For years I have kept that statement in my mind, often wondering why he sat next to me to impart those words just to leave. It was only the ramblings of an old and seemingly addled man, so most of the time I only remembered the words and very rarely considered the meaning.
Perhaps it’s because I am getting older, but the meaning of this phrase has started to coalesce in my mind as well. As we age we start to see life in the frame of what was rather than what it could be. It is the ability to look back that expands our perspective of what was. We reach a level of clarity and focus our attention on what matters rather than what is right in front of us.
A well-conceived folly is the same as purposeful foolishness. The examples of government spending billions for foolish ideas, foolish programs are apparent and mindboggling. The amount of planning required is often well-conceived and purposeful with the intent of creating a burden or obligation that promotes the idea of a bureaucracy as great, so that it lives to sustain itself, at our expense.
This is perhaps the foundation of Socialism and global Tyranny (a cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control.) The problem with me saying that is that the socialist believer actually believes their perspective. They think they are reasonable. What we need is a new way to measure the outcome of differing social-political movements. The problem with gauging one form of power over another comes down to the perception and ideology of the believer, which means that the only way to quantify one over the other has to be outcome-based, or in other words the end result of the entire economy, the people, their freedoms and free will, mixed with opportunity.
The reason I mention personal liberty is primarily due to the effects on society that occur when those personal liberties are replaced with societal needs only. You may want to ask yourself what good are freedoms if they are not available to you personally? Also, the overall precepts of freedom mandate that if freedom is the goal then everyone must be equally available to those freedoms or by logical sequence the freedoms not given to some will eventually be taken from everyone.
There are serious concerns and problems with allowing everyone to exercise their rights of freedom, especially within those who only want to use those liberties to enhance their power over another. Can you say political exceptionalism?
The folly of our current state of politics is in the power imbalance between those that govern and those who do not. I am not suggesting that we convert to a purely democratic electorate, that would be a disaster. Our Founding Fathers understood the need for representation and hoped that the Republic would continue to flourish through the process of elections based not on popularity but principle and ability. We are a representative democracy, that ensures that the ebbs and flows of popularity are measured and tempered by a less volatile electorate.
This folly continues in the rampant abuses of those in power with a stark difference between those in politics and those who are not. The politicians learned from Bill Clinton to hold their line, never admit or never give in, even if the accusations are true. Morality, honor, integrity? Who cares, as long as you can retain your position of power. Judge Moore has decided to follow that lead. He may be guiltless but in the past, those with morals would have decided to leave the party rather than tarnish it with the innuendo of a scandal. Therein lies the difference between those with morals and integrity and those without. I am not suggesting that Judge Moore is immoral only he knows that.
The well-conceived folly is the support for those behaviors and the silent acquiescence that allow those activities to continue and in many cases, expand. “There is nothing so great as the well-conceived folly” but only when it is surrounded by those who profit or benefit from it, and there are many who turn a blind eye for their piece of the pie.
I feel for the old man who sat next to me years ago. He had a vision of a despicable time. He had the courage to speak out, but no one would listen, no one understood. We are starting to understand now. Let’s hope it’s not too late…