The Chains of Compulsion - excerpt from FOOL

Mar 16, 2023 11:01 AM

What does it look like to be fully committed to folly? Read this excerpt from Chapter 12, “A Fatal Attraction."

The Chains of Compulsion 

We move on to a fourth observation: Folly, in whatever form it may take for the individual, is addictive. Here we must examine the addictive nature of ‘ivveleth, the behavior of moral rebellion.

As a dog returns to his vomit,

so a [self-confident] fool returns to his folly [‘ivveleth].

Proverbs 26:1

This instinctual canine habit has always been disgusting and incomprehensible to humans. Likewise, an impartial observer cannot fathom why an individual keeps reverting to behaviors that are morally repugnant and clearly harmful to himself and to others, even to people he loves.

Unlike the dog, the self-confident fool has the capacity to reason and should be able to make a rational choice to not engage in risky, destructive behaviors—especially after he has already engaged in them and been injured in some way by the results.

Instead, in the deep recesses of his soul, he makes the choice to embrace the pleasure or benefit of a deed, bypasses the roadblocks of reason, and installs instead turnpikes of rationalization:

“It’s not that bad.”

“The benefit outweighs the cost.”

“I have to love myself first.”

"I can’t help it. It's who I am.”

“I come from a disadvantaged background.”

“My family was dysfunctional.”

“I was abused as a child.”

One of the most disturbing news stories to close out the 20th Century and begin the 21st was the tragic story of Mary Kay LeTourneau. Having grown up the child of famous parents in a profoundly unhappy family environment, the Washington State school teacher destroyed her marriage and shattered her own family when she “fell in love” with a boy who was a pupil in her classroom. She became pregnant by the fourteen-year old boy and gave birth to a baby girl, endured a trial for rape of a child that became a national spectacle, and was given a probated sentence on the condition that she stay away from the boy. Not many weeks afterward, she was found in the lad’s embrace in an automobile on a country road. Her probation was revoked, she was put in prison, and then it was revealed that she was pregnant again by the same fourteen-year old boy. Her explanation? It was that the boy was the “love of her life,” that their love could not be stifled by a court order or by social conventions, and they found it impossible to stay away from each other. Eventually when she got out of prison, she married her junior but finally of-age lover.[1]

I do not bring up this story in order to be sensational or titillating. I think it is sad beyond words (not to mention an alarming harbinger of what has in more recent years become almost a social trend of adult women turning to adolescent boys for affection). It illustrates the incredible power of folly to deceive those who seek it and compel them to do patently stupid and disgusting things. One may argue in the case of a drug addiction that the physical component is overwhelming. Folly does not need a physical component to become a compulsion. Here is the power of ‘ivveleth: it so fastens its hooks on a person’s affections and desires that it not only drowns out the voices of moral reason and conscience, it even cancels out practical reason and common sense.

It is not that the individual literally has no power of choice. If, however, he desires the evil thing, has no desire to avoid it, and external controls on his behavior are weak, then it is virtually the same thing as having no free will, and the result is the same. The dog returns to its vomit, and the fool returns to his folly.

[1] The 14-year marriage ended in 2019. Ms. LeTourneau died in 2020.

Copyright © 2015 by Garry D. Nation.  All rights reserved.

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