A More Dangerous Enemy of the Good

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than evil is. Against evil, one can protest; it can be exposed and, if necessary, stopped with force. Evil always carries the seed of its own self-destruction, because it at least leaves people with a feeling of uneasiness. But against stupidity, we are defenseless. Neither with protest nor with force can we do anything here; reasons have no effect. Facts that contradict one’s own prejudice only need to be disbelieved — in such cases stupid people even become crticial, and when facts are unavoidable, they can simply be swept aside as meaningless isolated cases. Stupid people, in contrast to evil ones, are satisfied with themselves. Indeed, they become dangerous in that they may easily be stimulated to go on the attack. Therefore, more care must be taken in regard to stupidity than to evil. …

Closer examination reveals that every strong external development of power, whether of a political or religious nature, strikes a large portion of the people with stupidity. …

The biblical saying, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7), says that the internal liberation of people for responsible life before God is the only real way to overcome stupidity.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, protestant clergy executed for attempting to assassinate Adolph Hitler

from I Want to Live These Days with You, copyright 2007 Westminster John Knox Press

Prayer: Dear Father, reveal to me any ways in which I am really stupid – areas in my life where I have swept aside facts and truth to cling to my ignorant assumptions. Help me to hold only your word as truth and to hold everything else under the most careful scrutiny.

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