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  • “My mother always told me, she said, Elwood, (that's what she called me, Elwood), she said, in order to get by in life you need to be oh, so clever or oh, so pleasant. I've tried clever. I recommend pleasant.”

    James Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey, 1950

    “Oh, I get it. It's very clever. How's that working out for you, being clever?”


    “Well, keep it up then.”

    Brad Pitt and Edward Norton as Tyler Durden in Fight Club, 1999

    It does seem we've experienced a change in mindsets in the last 50+ years. Or have we really?

    You know, there are many names for clever people. Some of them are so clever they entertain us, people like Robin Williams, Denis Leary, Eddie Murphy, Katt Williams, etc. ad nausem. They're known as comedians and they are featured entertainers in our society. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. I listen to them, and I am sure you do from time to time. They appear on late night shows and in movies and at local comedy clubs where we go to be entertained. As long as they remain in their venue, we tolerate them as vicarious releases for all the thoughts we would like to express but know if we did we would just be fueling the fires of hate and discontent.

    When they do change venues, they appear to clean up their act, so to speak. Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy have both appeared in animated features by Disney after “polishing” their public images to reflect a more family friendly persona. Denis Leary even has a cable network television show where the language is sometimes questionable, but it is aired at times when children are likely to be in bed and even then, the material used to write the stories reflects the negative side of unfaithfulness, alcoholism, and drugs, as well as the consequences of lying and stealing. As to Katt, well, the jury is still out on him, but he is still young.

    So I'm getting the feeling that maybe clever isn't all it's cracked up to be. Maybe we should all step back and take a look at how we treat other people from the perspective of how they think we treat them.

    I remember the Golden Rule I was taught at a child. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? But there is an underlying misunderstanding waiting leap out and crush your good intentions if you follow that one to the letter.

    You see, some of us were raised in families where being a “smart ass” is a daily routine. Nothing personal, mind you. But if you ask a question you should already know the answer to and are having a “brain fart” at the time, you are likely to get an answer that is less than kind. Sort of like the way sailors and kindergartners talk to one another. Example: “Have you seen ….?”, “Yeah, ugly, ain't he?”.

    So I am wondering if this was what Paul was talking about in 1st Corinthians 13:11.

    “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

    “Do unto others as they would be done unto.” seems to be the better way to interpret that rule, doesn't it? Or maybe we should just stick to the basics.

    Love without condition. Forgive without limitation. Judge no one.

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