They say, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” That adage proves true more often than not, but with a qualifier; it’s dangerous only when the knower knows less than he thinks he knows. Which, if we think about it, is most often.
Another way to express that old saw is, “The delusion of knowledge is a dangerous thing.” A thirsty, desert wanderer can convince himself that the optical illusion of water in the distance is quite real. He clambers to his feet and expends all his remaining strength running, stumbling, toward the inviting sight. As he draws closer to the mirage, however, he learns more about it, until eventually he falls face first into the parched, desert sand, waiting for the vultures to finish him off.Not the most cheerful of scenarios, but delusions can indeed be fatal in one way or another. Think of cousin Dorcus, who felt perfectly comfortable in his bathtub full of water, so he figgered he had this swimming thing aced. When he hit the water after leaping from that rock on the lake shore, it didn’t take him long to realize that lakes and bathtubs are two very different things, even though there’s water in’em both. Remember how the preacher had a hard time keeping a straight face at the memorial service? He just couldn’t quit thinking of how Dorcus had been the stupidest know-it-all he’d ever tried not to know.
We all know people who suffer delusions of various sorts. Trouble is, they usually aren’t the ones who wind up suffering. Have you ever noticed how convinced they are of their rightness?
This is the first of a series of posts intended to deal with life’s delusions. If only dealing with them in fact were as easy as writing about dealing with them. But we’ll do our best to keep a clear head and a straight face through this whole ordeal. Deal?