The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. -Herbert Spencer
I have no idea who Herbert Spencer is. I didn't even try to look him up. This quote can stand on its own, as it echos messages from the book of Proverbs!
One dictionary defines folly as, "a foolish action, practice, idea, etc.; absurdity." When we don't let people experience the results of their foolish actions, they cannot and will not learn to not do those foolish actions.
It brings to mind a catch-phrase often bantered around in the parenting realm: natural consequences. Often, parents must present consequences to their children that do not naturally flow from their behavior. But frequently, children can learn not to repeat an action simply by experiencing the outcome of those choices; these are natural consequences.
It seems to me that often God lets us experience natural consequences so that we can learn to part ways with our folly. I'll give just one example: credit cards. Need I say more? Some of you probably use these as the tool they were designed to be. But for some of us, digging out of the trap of easy money we fell into when we started using credit cards is God's method of helping us depart from our folly. I'm really ready to be separated from both my folly and my consequences! But sometimes, to really learn to forsake our foolishness, the consequences need to drag on...and on... But someday, I will be completely free from foolishness, possessing the wisdom found in the mind of Christ! When God writes His children's stories, there are happy endings!
I just wanted to share with you what I felt was an apt quote for our generation. When we shield people from the consequences of their actions, we do what God doesn't--doom the world to her folly.
Wisdom calls aloud in the street,
she raises her voice in the public squares;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out,
in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:
"How long will you simple ones love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
If you had responded to my rebuke,
I would have poured out my heart to you
and made my thoughts known to you.
But since you rejected me when I called
and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand,
since you ignored all my advice
and would not accept my rebuke,
I in turn will laugh at your disaster;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you-
when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
"Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me.
Since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the LORD,
since they would not accept my advice
and spurned my rebuke,
they will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
but whoever listens to me [wisdom] will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm."
-Proverbs 1:20-33, NIV