“If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools…”
O, how many of these verses call for humility, restraint, patience; not reacting in an overblown manner.
To bear something is to carry a burden. Notice he didn’t say retaliate in kind. He wrote, “if you can bear” it…
Sometimes, rushing to your own defense can be detrimental or not even work.
Sometimes, it isn’t even worth it as you recognize who is twisting your words. A Knave is defined as a “dishonest or unscrupulous man”. We see these kinds of men daily, from “snake-oil” salesmen to politicians to “every-day joes”.
The traps they create for fools gives them the power they crave.
I wonder if Kipling had this same thought, “why even defend when those who are falling into the trap are fools anyway? Knaves and fools behave as knaves and fools do…” Or, to quote Forest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does…”
It seems like the proper response.
Another Stoic approach. Bearing to see those words twisted, enduring it, knowing you can only control how you respond. That response? Once again: indifference. Not even validating them with a response can sometimes be the best verdict, no? Especially in this day and age where practically everything is sensationalist and seemingly urgent: OMG! I can’t believe you said that, did you really say that?! You must act, respond, apologize… NOW!
How many times have we seen someone’s message twisted for the foolish populace, and then that person bends the knee to popular opinion and issues an “apology”? How many times has this happened in your own circles – personal or professional? And you see the race to clarify, correct on the one hand and the race to misinterpret, etc. on the other?
I always feel that hubris side of the Ego trying to pull me to instant gratification, instant response, trying to clear the air right-the-fuck-now! Because, it’s a long game, this high-road path of indifference. The air may not clear for a week, a month, a year, ten years. But when the dust settles, you are seen to occupy the high road, just like you have been all along.
And the Knaves? Fuck ’em. Pay them no mind.
Stand with Stoic resolve.
In the long run, Knaves are revealed for what they are, too.