By John Russell
While America has its share of brilliant and highly placed students, ACT scores of high school students continue to decline overall. The debate and finger pointing continue, but the evidence seems clear. (This has become such a well known problem that comedian Argus Hamilton claims over 85 percent of high school students think BC means “Before Cable.”) Long before such testing Solomon observed that people can be mentally limited yet wise, or they can be brilliant and yet stupid (Ecclesiastes 10:1-3).
It Doesn’t Take Much
We’ve all done foolish things, failed miserably, and missed what was obvious to others. Afterward we say, “How could I have been so blind, thick-headed, and stupid?” Think about prominent people who have built good reputations only to have them destroyed by a foolish indiscretion. (Some of us could add our names to that list.)
If you’ve been there, hopefully your failure was a one-time mistake and not a pattern. Wise people are not perfect people, and wisdom is often found in learning from our missteps. As dead flies taint perfume, folly can taint the best of lives.
It Does Make a Difference
The inclination of a fool’s heart (Ecclesiastes 10:2) “shows everyone how stupid he is” (v. 3). I sat across from a woman who refused to admit her decision to abandon her loving husband and children and move in with a four-time divorced louse was idiotic. Clearly the inclination of her heart was toward wrong and evil.
What contributes to such inclinations? Perhaps the major contributors are: (1) a spiritual vacuum, (2) logical ineptitude, and (3) historical dullness. Dr. Peter Gibbon noted that “revisionist history people make students ashamed of their past and pessimistic about their future . . . implying we are far superior to our ancestors, which encourages ingratitude and self-righteousness and stupidity.” Let’s wise up.
John Russell recently retired from a 40-year ministry with Lakeside Christian Church in Lakeside Park, Kentucky. John and his wife Susan have two adult children, Jay and Stacey.