I Wish I Were a Simpleton
If you close your ear to the cry of the poor, you will cry out and not be heard. – Proverbs 21:13 (NRSV)
“Sometimes I wish I were a simpleton,” a stranger sighed to a group of us at a party. “I’d be happier if I were dumber, I think.” I remember being taken aback at her frankness, but it’s not like she’s the first to express some version of the same thing.
“Ignorance is bliss.”
“You can’t go home again.”
Adam and Eve standing there outside the Garden, thinking about the home they’d traded for understanding.
The world is so much more complicated, and compromised, than some of us used to think. You learn that your favorite artist was truly horrible in their personal life, and now all their art feels ugly. You discover that a product you love is made by a disaster of a company, so you stop buying it.
Once you know, you can’t unknow. Once you’ve allowed your worldview to be complicated, your happy simpleton days are over. But you never forget how easy it used to be.
You long for the days before you knew.
But then you realize that there are some in the world who never had the luxury of not knowing. The people abused by that artist. The ones hurt by that company’s pollution, politics, labor practices. Maybe you were happier back when you were dumber, but that doesn’t mean those people were. Your knowing hasn’t actually lost you anything but your illusions.
And now that those are gone, maybe you’ll be able to see when God shows you, and them, what real happiness looks like.
God, for every compromised pleasure I have lost, you have a thousand perfect ones in store. Reveal some to me now, so that I can stop whining and start working toward them. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.