Gaining Reason By Becoming Mad

An excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s The Madman

Once there ruled in the distant city of Wirani a king who was both mighty and wise. And he was feared for his might and loved for his wisdom.

Now, in the heart of that city was a well, whose water was cool and crystalline, from which all the inhabitants drank, even the king and his courtiers; for there was no other well.

One night when all were asleep, a witch entered the city, and poured seven drops of strange liquid into the well, and said, “From this hour he who drinks this water shall become mad.”

Next morning all the inhabitants, save the king and his lord chamberlain, drank from the well and became mad, even as the witch had foretold.

And during that day the people in the narrow streets and in the market places did naught but whisper to one another, “The king is mad. Our king and his lord chamberlain have lost their reason. Surely we cannot be ruled by a mad king. We must dethrone him.”

That evening the king ordered a golden goblet to be filled from the well. And when it was brought to him he drank deeply, and gave it to his lord chamberlain to drink.

And there was great rejoicing in that distant city of Wirani, because its king and its lord chamberlain had regained their reason.

When I was in high school some of my peers from my “Christian”school were behaving in ways I thought un-Christlike. So I challenged them on their behavior. Their response was something like, “Quit being like John the Baptist — quit being so holier-than-thou. Why can’t you just go along with us?”

In other words, they were mad (in regard to biblical behavior) and they wanted me to drink from the same cup to ‘regain their reason.’

When confronted with their poor decisions or less-than-desirable behaviors most people would rather pull the wise, reasoned man down to their level of ‘madness’ than aspire to a higher level of ‘reason.’

Check out Erwin McManus’ thoughts on this, “When we live below a standard, it is simply human nature to redefine the standard as unreasonable and establish standards that our patterns are already accomplishing. We keep lowering the bar until we clear it.”

Instead why don’t you raise your standard today. Don’t partake of the madness of others just to be accepted by them… you set the standard for decency, holiness, nobleness, self-sacrifice, self-control and temperance!

Live right,
speak the truth,
despise exploitation,
refuse bribes,
reject violence,
avoid evil amusements.
This is how you raise your standard of living!
A safe and stable way to live.
A nourishing, satisfying way to live.
(Isaiah 33:15-16, The Message)

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