When The Executive is Foolish

From: L. Michael Hall
2021 Neurons #55
August 26, 2021
How Self-Actualization
Can Save Politics #10


Currently I’m working on wisdom. Having completed an extensive research on thinking, deciding, and learning, I’m now bringing all of that together to formulate a process for the structure of wisdom. To that end I’ve been focusing on the process of how to model wise thinking, wise deciding, and wise actions. Why? One of the big reasons is simply to avoid foolishness. And if there’s anything epidemic among us humans it is foolishness— foolish thinking, foolish talking, foolish decisions, and foolish actions. I know! I’ve engaged in plenty of foolishness in my life and a lot of my research has been to become, at least, a little bit less foolish. We humans get ourselves into so many problems and create so much agony for ourselves because we make stupid and foolish mistakes. And while it does come with being human, it is not inevitable. We can learn better.

I write this now because what is playing out in full techni-color on television every day this week are the ongoing consequences of the foolish mistakes of President Biden. His foolish decisions about the August 31 deadline and his foolish rush to leave Afghanistan has created a humanitarian crisis and it promises to result in the death, slaughter, and torture of thousands — who will be left behind.

More foolish than his original decision when he sat an arbitrary deadline is his ongoing foolish refusal to listen to his generals and his democrat colleagues. All week, democrats have accused him of being tone-deaf. “He doesn’t listen” has been the refrain heard over and over. This is the essential formula for being foolish— not listening to others. That’s what I did when I was 16 when I would not listen to my dad’s wisdom about his recommendations for college. I did not listen and that eventuated in additional foolish choices. If only I had listened!

Now for Biden, it was utter foolishness to evacuate the army before the thousands of Americans and people of Afghanistan. Who even thought of that!? It was utter foolishness to leave 80 billion of dollars worth of weapons for the terrorists (Blackhawk helicopters, 600,000 guns, etc.). Whose bright idea was that? Or to close down the other airport (Bagram air force base), the one with multiple landing strips and the one that was fortified?

When confronted by the democrats, generals, and the leaders of other countries, Biden at first went into absolute denial— what he said was not only not true, but contradicted by his own staff and the Pentagon. Talk about foolishness! Once the mainstream media called his hand on that, then he went into stubborn refusal to change the time line. More foolishness.

Now you would think (I would think) that we have intelligent people at the helm making these decisions or informing the president or helping him make better decisions. Even though intelligence is not wisdom, it is better than the lack of intelligence. Even so, there are a lot of intelligent fools in this world. In fact, all of us can know things and still make really stupid decisions. Wisdom transcends intelligence because it involves heart— compassion, understanding, multiple perspectives, humility— the willingness to be wrong and the willingness to learn from others.

Biden’s foolishness started with the decision to withdraw without adequate planning. Didn’t he (or they) think about the ten to fifteen thousand Americans there? Didn’t he (or they) think about all of the equipment and getting it out? Didn’t he (or they) think about all of the translators and their families and plan for them to get out? Why did the CIA leave six weeks ago? Did he not think that intelligence “on the ground” would be needed in the evacuation?

Executive foolishness is the worst kind because it is top-down and can get a nation (or a person) into deep do-do. That’s what is happening today and is, and will be, the cause of more “man’s inhumanity to man” in the coming weeks and months.

What’s good is that all of this provides us a short glimpse of wisdom factors— factors that save us from doing foolish things— openness to information, willingness to listen to others, willingness to change one’s mind, willingness to take counsel of others, and to work collaboratively with others.