Manu Smrti

There are few blogs today I follow. I either don’t care to make the time for them or I become uninterested after a while. If you’re someone I read regularly, count yourself talented-if for no other reason than you’ve managed to maintain my attention.

Speaking of such blogs, I was catching up on one today and came across a quote from the Manu Smrti(if you arent familiar, look it up). The quote goes something like this, “Unless one be asked, one must not explain anything to anybody, nor must one answer a person who asks improperly; let a wise man, though he knows the answer, behave among men like an idiot.”

I’ve been pondering this since encountering it. Knowing that it comes from Manu Smrti, I can’t help but revere it at least a little. Though I have to admit, I’m struggling a little to determine its value to me.

The first and second “parts” make enough sense I suppose: Don’t toss your wisdom at a fool, unless specifically asked to do so-and even then do it carefully. I’ve been working on this lately. For years it’s been something I’ve fought. This is partially due to my intrinsic want to help others. It’s also partially because, for all the likeness to my dad I hold, I inherited all of my birthmother’s worst parts-including her loose tongue. More than once I’ve spouted off at the mouth-fully correct in what I said and fully well-intended, but completely unaware of the damage I was doing while trying to offer improvement to the recipient of my words. Fine. Dandy.

What I keep tripping over in the above quote, though, is the last “third” of it. The part about a wise man pretending to be an idiot among other(presumably less wise) people. Superficially, I see value in avoiding possibly hurting someone’s feelings when you point out their ignorance(this can happen even when done gently, depending on the person’s emotional constitution).

But beyond that a wise man playing an idiot among other men just seems mean. Most definitions of parents, priests, teachers, gurus, coaches and counsellors(and anyone else someone might consider “wise”) include some aspect of being a “guide” and this guide role is based off the assertion that people in these positions are more knowledgeable, more capable-somehow, whether through book smarts or life smarts, or some combination thereof , these folks are meant to lead. And nine times out of ten, the people they’re leading aren’t asking for it directly(parents may pay for school, but 99% of children don’t actually ask the teachers for 99% of their wisdom). 

With so many people(nowdays) failing to learn from their own life’s lessons(lessons that are often repeated multiple times within a single lifespan), I have to wonder what it would be like if all our wise played idiots. :/