This was the title of a book written by one of my favourite authors, Barbara Tuchman. It is a brilliantly researched epic that starts with a well documented retelling
of the story of the fall of Troy. When the wooden horse is left behind by the apparently retreating Greeks the Trojans knock the wall down and drag the horse into their castle. Even when several people suggest that they check that there is no-one inside, the rulers of Troy do nothing.The rest, as they say is history.
Barbara Tuchman goes through history telling of many times when rulers were told that what they were planning to do was an act of folly. Folly is defined as a foolish action; even when a number of people suggest to you not to do something and yet you do it anyway, and then get a very poor outcome.
The book was written some time ago and finishes with the Vietnam War. I wonder what she would think about the situation in the world today, especially the Middle East, if she was still alive.
Going back to the Trojans, at some level they must have known what was going to happen. Maybe it was the same with Bismarck when he attacked the Americans during the First World War against advice. This move was later seen as the biggest mistake resulting in Germany’s loss of the war and also at some level the end of a terrible slaughter.
I have just completed a 7-day training in Guangzhou, China on the subject of Guilt or, as Chuck says, on the subject of Innocence. It certainly gave us time to review the effects of this most destructive dynamic. It also seems obvious that guilt is the main driver of our ‘March of Folly’. This hidden driver seems to move us from one mistake to another in an increasing cycle of violence.
At what point do we look back in our very recent history and atone for the mistakes we have made rather than make decisions in moments of feeling bad? Don’t we need to go back to the core original mistake we made to free ourselves from our ‘March of Folly’?
When it comes to folly in my life I don’t need to look far. Even when I know the principles, even when I know what is right, I don’t always make that choice.
I guess even after 7 days I have more guilt to clean up . . . more past mistakes to confess and forgive myself for. Would we all take that direction and be that example, instead of marching to folly and self-destructive action?